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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005

Location: Washington, DC


The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk on behalf of myself, the Senator from California, Mrs. Feinstein, the Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. Reed, the Senator from New Jersey, Mr. Lautenberg, and the Senator from Wisconsin, Mr. Feingold, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. KENNEDY], for himself, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Reed, Mr. Lautenberg, and Mr. Feingold,
proposes an amendment numbered 3263.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds for the support of new nuclear weapons development under the Stockpile Services
Advanced Concepts Initiative or for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP))

At the end of subtitle B of title XXXI, add the following:


None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by section 3101(a)(1) for the National Nuclear Security Administration for
weapons activities may be obligated or expended for the following:

(1) The Stockpile Services Advanced Concepts Initiative for the support of new nuclear weapons development.
(2) The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP).

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I see my friend and colleague, who offered this amendment on a previous occasion, in the Chamber. We have worked closely together. Because of the necessities of time, I hope the Chair will recognize her to make remarks, and then I will try to gain recognition.

I yield the floor.


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I welcome the opportunity to join with my colleague and friend, the Senator from California, offering this amendment with my other colleagues.

Just to summarize very briefly, the development of these nuclear weapons signals a dangerous direction in our nuclear policy. It weakens our ability to ask other countries to give up their nuclear programs. If we build these nuclear weapons, the costs are clear. No one will believe we are serious about nuclear nonproliferation. Developing new nuclear weapons sends a mixed message that undermines all of our calls for nonproliferation. When we criticize Iran and North Korea for their nuclear weapons development, they point back to ours.

There is little doubt that we would be starting a new arms race. Although it is too soon to tell who will follow suit, few developments in the quantity or quality of nuclear weapons have gone unmatched by other powers. To start a costly new arms race for these weapons of little utility is, I believe, a mistake.

At the same time, the benefits are not clear. Opponents will just build deeper bunkers, out of the range of new weapons. We will build weapons with deeper range and our enemies will again build deeper bunkers.

But even more compelling is the fact that conventional weapons will do the job against deeply buried targets. All bunkers must have air intakes, energy sources, and entries; and secure those through conventional means and you have essentially secured the bunker, making these new nuclear weapons programs effectively useless.

In the end, the Department of Energy would like us to buy something that we do not need, that we will never use, that endangers us by its mere existence, and that makes our important diplomatic goals much more difficult to achieve.

I hope we will have the acceptance of our amendment.

Mr. President, having outlined what I believe to be the principal reasons for the amendment, I am going to take a few moments to go into some detail now about what is at risk.

As I mentioned, we are on the threshold of a new nuclear arms race. Instead of curbing the spread and the development of nuclear arms, the Bush administration wants us to build a new generation of nuclear weapons. I believe this is a dangerous and reckless policy that will put Americans at even greater risk in an increasingly dangerous world.

The nuclear weapons the administration is developing go by such terms as "mini-nukes" and "bunker busters." They may not possess the yield of the nuclear warheads of the cold war era, but a mushroom cloud is still a mushroom cloud. They can still cause monumental destruction, massive casualties, and long-term environmental damage to entire regions of the world. They will encourage other countries to follow our example and produce a new generation of nuclear weapons of their own. Their existence makes it even more likely that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

On issue after issue, the Bush administration has arrogantly abandoned cooperation of the allies in favor of "my way or the highway" policies that alienate us from the world, from its rejection of the Kyoto Treaty against global warming to misguided occupation of Iraq. This administration's policies have made the world more dangerous for Americans, and the development of a new generation of nuclear arms is another such policy. These nuclear weapons programs must be stopped.

The administration requested a total of $34.2 million for the development of these new nuclear weapons. Our amendment would stop this money from going toward these new nuclear weapons and would direct the money toward other priorities such as increasing the safety of our existing stockpile, or environmental cleanup of nuclear materials.

The administration's funding request for these programs is a continuation of the dangerous new direction this administration is taking in our nuclear weapons policy.

The administration's Nuclear Posture Review acknowledged this, stating it "puts in motion a major change in our approach to the role of nuclear"-this is in the Nuclear Posture Review, 8 January 2002. Building on the QDR-the overall review of our defense capability-the Nuclear Posture Review "puts in motion a major change in our approach to the role of nuclear offensive forces in our deterrent strategy and presents the blueprint for transforming our strategic posture."

Why? Because the administration intends to go ahead not only in the research but in the development of these weapons systems. We will hear from the other side: "Oh, no, we aren't, Senator." All you have to do is look in the legislation itself. There it is on page 378-the limitation of availability of funds for advanced nuclear weapons concept limitation. Under the funds authorized to be appropriated this year, they may be obligated or expended for the purpose of additional or exploratory studies under an advanced nuclear weapons concept initiative until 30 days after the date on which the Administrator for Nuclear Security submits to the congressional defense committees a detailed report on the activities for such studies on the initiatives that are planned for 2005.

There it is. Is that what the administration and is that what the Senate is relying on to say they are going to have to come back here for another action in terms of the development and the testing of nuclear weapons?

Look at what the language says-until 30 days after the date on which a report goes to the committee. They can go ahead.

Let us see what they are intending. This is a pass. Those who rely on that language said, "Senator Kennedy, Senator Feinstein, we have effectively addressed your needs." They cannot go ahead in terms of development or testing because we have language in there to prohibit it.

That is not accurate. That is not accurate. I have read the operative language in the Defense authorization bill for this year's funding. They can do anything they want after they give notification. That isn't any prohibition for this year.

We can ask, What do they mean? What do they intend?

Let us look at what Linton Brooks, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, says. He is the top person on nuclear weapons. He says on December 5, 2003: "On behalf of the administration, I would like to thank you"-

This was a memoranda to the directors of some of the laboratories. I will include the page in the RECORD.

"On behalf of the administration, I would like to thank you and your staff for helping us to support this important effort. We are now free to explore a range of technical options."

This is after Congress repealed the amendment which prohibited mini-nukes. That was in the law. And the last Congress repealed that action. Here is the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration:

"We are now free to explore a range of technical options. We should not fail to take advantage of this opportunity."

Look what else Linton Brooks said:

"I have a bias in favor of things that might be usable. I think that's just an inherent part of deterrence. If it is usable, they can be developed, and we ought to use it."

You can ask, How do we know the administration is serious in pursuing the bunker buster? How do we know that? All we have to do is look at the 5-year budget the administration has submitted.

As it moves on through in the development of the bunker buster, you will find as it increases-it has a total appropriations for this whole project of some $484 million over the next 5 years. For studies? For technical research? That is for the robust nuclear penetrator. Research is $484 million and $82 million for the small nuke. If you look in their budget, that is what it has.

Look in the details of what they expect each year. And when you come to 2007, you will find it is planning development in 2007. It has the technical language.

If I am wrong, I hope those on the other side will correct me. If this language does not mean development, correct me. If applicable, RNEP will move to level 6.3 authority, given the appropriate authorization-that means effectively the development in 2007 and the testing in 2009. It is in the 5-year program. This is what they are intending to do. That is why this amendment is so important.

It is very clear what the intention of the budget proposal is from the statement of the key administration officials who are dealing with the development of nuclear weapons and by the statement of the Nuclear Posture Review in and of itself. That is the direction we are going.

We believe we should say we are not going to go in this direction. We do not want to have another nuclear arms race.

One of the great successes of Democratic and Republican Presidents over the period since the end of World War II was being able to contain the nuclear arms race. We came dangerously close during the Cuban missile crisis of a nuclear exchange. But we have been able to avoid it, and we have seen progress made with the different arms control agreements which have been signed and supported by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Why in the world, when we are trying to contain the nuclear capability of North Korea and Iran, are we going out and beginning to have another nuclear arms race when we have the most feared military in the world right now? That is the argument that must be addressed on the other side to those who want to support this particular program.

Development of these nuclear weapons is part of that ill-advised transformation. It returns us to the dangerous dynamics of the world when our nuclear scientists competed with our rivals to develop the latest technology, our arsenals were on highest alert, and we were only minutes away from nuclear attack.

The administration's nuclear posture review directs the Department of Defense to look into the possible modification to existing weapons to provide additional yield flexibility in the stockpile and improve the earth-penetrating weapons to counter the increased use of potential adversaries of hardened and deeply buried facilities, referring to the bunker buster. In addition, the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories were to look into the weapons that reduce collateral damage, the so-called mini-nukes.

Last year, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee raised serious concerns about our Nation's nuclear weapons program. They had extensive hearings on this. The Department of Energy is proposing, and this is their conclusion of the House committee report:

The Department [of Energy] is proposing to rebuild, restart, and redo and otherwise exercise every capability that was used over the last forty years of the Cold War and at the same time prepare for a future with an expanded mission for nuclear weapons.

That is what the Republican House committee concluded, after extensive hearings on this particular issue. The House Energy and Water Subcommittee thought the pursuit of a broad range of new initiatives was premature until the Department of Energy could demonstrate that it could adequately care for the nuclear weapons we already have, which makes sense.

The committee cut the funding for the mini-nukes program, refusing to "support redirecting the management resources and attention to a series of new initiatives."

Chairman HOBSON's criticisms ring just as true today. Our amendment would similarly cut the funding for new nuclear weapons programs.

The President's budget for fiscal year 2005 contains $9 million for the Advanced Concepts Initiative, which funds research into the programs. This is an increase of 50 percent from last year's level of $6 million.

The low-yield nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons with a yield up to 5 kilotons. But these mininukes are very deadly. A 5-kiloton bomb is half the size of the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima, capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people and making the target radioactive for decades to come.

Based on questions about their battlefield utility, Congress banned the research and development of these weapons for over 10 years. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first gulf war, Colin Powell asked for a review of options for using tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. He rejected all of them. Colin Powell rejected all of them because he concluded they have no usefulness on the battlefield.

Unfortunately, last year, at the administration's request, Congress repealed the ban and allowed research into these weapons to go forward. I disagreed with that action and joined with my colleague from California in an amendment to retain the ban. Many supported repealing the ban because they believed the administration would not field these new weapons. This is simply not true.

The administrator's nuclear weapons chief, Linton Brooks, says, as I mentioned: "I have a bias in favor of the lowest useable yield because I have a bias in favor of . . . things that might be useable."

That is a clear intention of what a leading person for the administration believes and feels about the usability of small nuclear weapons.

The administration wants these weapons because it believes our existing nuclear weapons are too large to be used. It wants to develop a generation of more useable nuclear weapons. In creating a more useable nuclear weapon, the administration is making it more likely that the United States would use such a weapon, increasing the risks of escalation and nuclear war.

This chart shows a detonation outside of Damascus. This would be a 5-kiloton bomb that was detonated in a hypothetical bunker in the Middle East, in Damascus, on a typical day. Over half a million people would be wounded or killed from such explosion, and the fallout pattern would extend from Damascus into the Mediterranean Sea. The detonation of even a 1-kiloton nuclear weapon at a depth of less than 50 feet will create a crater larger than the World Trade Center and spew a million cubic feet of radioactive dust into the atmosphere.

According to Michael May, the former Director of Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Laboratory, one of our premier research labs, "Scientists say even a low-yield nuclear strike on a bio-warfare storage bunker will dig a large, hot crater and blast a witches's brew of weaponized germs and radioactive fallout into the air."

This next chart gives some idea about what that might look like. We can realize the size of the hole only if we can see the observation post that allegedly can hold 20 people. They are right on the edge of that very substantial crater for the 1-kiloton bomb, with the thousands of tons of radioactive material which comes from that.

For those who argue that the advanced weapons concepts program is necessary to preserve the intellectual base of nuclear weapons scientists, one of the prime reasons being recommended before our committee is because we want to keep occupied our nuclear scientists so they will be energized in their work.

This amendment would not stifle their ability to study nuclear weapons. There is plenty of work to be done on stockpile security, on the nuclear weapons capability of other nations. This amendment would leave the money available for research in the nuclear weapons field but would prevent it from being spent on nuclear weapons research.

The robust nuclear earth-penetrator, the so-called bunker buster, is a nuclear weapon that will burrow into the ground 10 to 50 feet before detonating. The administration is currently studying the feasibility of putting existing nuclear weapons with yields up to 300 kilotons into an earth-penetrating casing. The bunker buster is designed to strike deeply buried, hardened bunkers, which could be fortified below 100 to 300 feet of concrete.

Earth-penetrating weapons would spray millions of tons of radioactive waste into the atmosphere, creating a plume of deadly fallout, according to nuclear physicists.

Robert Peurifoy, the retired vice president of Sandia National Laboratories, another premier nuclear weapons laboratory, had this to say:

"If you can find somebody in a uniform in the Defense Department who can talk about the need for nuclear bunker busters without laughing, I'll buy him a cup of coffee. It's outlandish. It's stupid. It is an effort to maintain a payroll at the weapons labs."

Opponents will argue that we are simply funding a study, that there is no intent to go any further. But last year Fred Celec, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters in the Bush administration, was asked about these bunker busters and he stated that if a hydrogen bomb can be successfully designed to survive a crash through hard rock or concrete and still explode, "it will ultimately get fielded."

In May 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld said the bunker buster "is a study. It is nothing more and nothing less." This study was planned to cost $15 million for fiscal years 2003 to 2005. In fiscal year 2004, based on concerns about the program, Congress cut the appropriations to $7.5 million. But this year, the President's fiscal year 2005 budget request challenged that and the administration requested $27.6 million for the study and revealed that it planned to spend $485 million over the next 5 years.

Surely an investment of that magnitude is not just a study but a quantum leap towards deployment of this dangerous weapon. In fact, in that plan the administration stated its intent to move in a development stage.

Whatever their size, current deployed nuclear weapons must be detonated close to the ground in order to kill chemical or biological agents, creating a great deal of nuclear fallout. If the detonation is underground, all the debris becomes radioactive and disperses through the air. Fallout can be reduced by detonating the weapons at a higher altitude, but that reduces their effectiveness against chemical or biological weapons.

Bunker busters require pinpoint accuracy to hit deeply buried, hardened bunkers that may contain chemical or biological weapons. They require precise intelligence on the location of the target because even an enhanced radiation weapon has a very short range of effectiveness to neutralize a biological agent. If the bomb is even slightly off target, the detonation may cause the spread of chemical bioagents in addition to the radioactive fallout instead of vaporizing the agent.

In fact, the administration's own Nuclear Posture Review acknowledges that "significant capability shortfalls currently exist in: finding and tracking mobile relocatable targets and WMD sites" as well as "locating, identifying, and characterizing hard and deeply buried targets."

Given our current failure to locate WMD in Iraq, do we have sufficient confidence to drop a nuclear bomb on a suspected hardened, deeply buried bunker? According to noted Stanford physicist Sidney Drell, the blast effects of such a weapon "extend beyond the area of very high temperatures and radiation they create for destroying such agents." The consequences of using such a weapon extend far beyond the limited area of a suspected bunker.

In the months leading up to the war in Iraq, the administration refused to rule out-isn't this interesting-in the months leading up to the war in Iraq, the administration refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons. If we had mininukes last spring, would we have used them against suspected chemical or biological bunkers, bunkers which turned out not to have existed?

Using a low-yield nuclear weapon against a suspected bunker around Baghdad could have killed a half a million people or more. Imagine the geometric increase in the resentment of the Iraqi people to our occupation, what it would have been had we done so.

Couple the administration's interest in these weapons with its newly declared preventive war doctrine and we face the potential of a nuclear first strike against a nonnuclear nation. This would violate our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Use of a nuclear weapon against a country preemptively would instantly transform America from the great beacon of hope in the world to a pariah.

So, as I mentioned, the development of these new weapons signals a dangerous direction in our nuclear policy. It weakens our ability to ask other countries to give up their nuclear programs. And the costs are clear. No one will believe we are serious about nuclear nonproliferation. Developing the new nuclear weapon sends a mixed message that undermines all of our calls for nonproliferation. When we criticize Iran and North Korea for their nuclear weapons development, they point back to ours. There is little doubt that we would be starting a new arms race. Though it is too soon to tell who will follow suit, few developments in the quantity or quality of nuclear weapons have gone unmatched by other powers. To start an arms race with these weapons of little utility is a mistake.

Opponents, as mentioned, will just build deeper bunkers, but even more compelling is the fact that conventional weapons will do the job against deeply buried targets. We have not heard on the Armed Services Committee testimony that we do not have the capacity or capability to deal with the deep bunkers with conventional weapons today. I will wait for those who are opposed to this amendment to justify that position.

So this is a matter of enormous importance and consequence. The materials I mentioned are here on my desk. It is quite clear the direction this administration is intending to go. It is clear not only from the statements of those who have the prime responsibility for the development of nuclear weapons, it is clear in their statement for their 5-year proposal. You cannot read that proposal and not see where they are looking for development and testing. It is all out there for everyone to see.

For those to suggest on the floor of the Senate that under the existing Defense authorization bill we have effectively prohibited that kind of conduct in terms of the testing and the development defies the language I have read previously. The only hindrance would be the fact that the Department of Defense is required to send studies here to the appropriate Defense committees and then, after 30 days, is free this year to take whatever action they want. That is not the way for us to move into another nuclear arms race. That is what this amendment is meant to address. That is why I hope it will be accepted.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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