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Energy and Water Development Appopriations Act, 2004

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I thank my friend and colleague from West Virginia for being typically courteous to the
Members offering this amendment and also being courteous to the consideration of this issue which is of central importance not only to this appropriations bill but also in terms of the whole question of security for our country. We don't find too often where our colleagues and friends wait their time here on the Senate floor and are so willingly generous to give up some time.

I don't intend to take an undue period of time, but it is typical of the Senator from West Virginia, his courtesy and his respect for the institution, to permit us to make a presentation on an extremely important matter. I thank him very much.

Mr. BYRD. I thank the Senator.

Mr. KENNEDY. I am not surprised, but I am always impressed with the spirit with which the Senator respects this institution and an individual Member's ability to raise important matters to make the case which Senator Feinstein and I are making this afternoon.

Mr. BYRD. I thank the distinguished Senator.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, we live in a dangerous world, and the greatest danger of all is still the danger of nuclear war or the use of a nuclear weapon by a terrorist group. We know that terrorists are still plotting each and every day to find new ways to kill Americans.

The United States has a responsibility to do what it can to make this a safer world—not as a lone ranger, not as the world's policeman, but for our national security, and for the principles of freedom and democracy that make our country what it is.

We can't afford to let our own policy help ignite a new nuclear arms race. At the very time when we are urging other nations to halt their own nuclear weapons programs, the administration is rushing forward to develop our own new nuclear weapons.

This bill contains $6 million for the development of the so-called "mini-nukes", and $15 million for the so-called nuclear bunker-buster. They want to speed up the testing of nuclear weapons, and select the site for a new pit facility—a factor for new nuclear warheads.

These provisions demonstrate the dangerous new direction of our nuclear weapons policy. They continue the go-it-alone, damn-the-torpedoes approach to the delicate balance of international arms control in today's world.

By passing this amendment, we can demonstrate that we are not embarking on this reckless new nuclear policy. It makes no sense for us to tell other nations to "Do as we say, not as we do." We must do a better job of leading the way in reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and honoring our commitments to international arms control. The House bill takes this approach, because it prohibits the use of funds for the development of low-yield nuclear weapons and nuclear bunker busters.

There's a reason why arms control has been such a key element of our foreign policy and defense policy over many decades. Last month, an infuriated gathering took place in Hiroshima to honor those who died there in 1945. The world knows the massive devastation that a nuclear weapon can unleash. Since 1945 nuclear weapons have never been used again in war.

Yet, this year on the anniversary of those tragedies, the Bush Administration's Strategic Command held a secret meeting in Nebraska at Offut Air Force Base to discuss the plan for a new generation of nuclear weapons. They barred congressional staff from the meeting. Their nuclear policy is being discussed in the dark, without telling the American people or our allies what the policy is.

The administration disbanded an advisory committee to the National Nuclear Security Administration with membership that ranged from James Schlesinger to Sidney Drell. Obviously, the administration is not interested in what some of the best minds in our country and the world have to say about nuclear policy in today's world. It's wrong to begin a new nuclear arms race by designing, building, and testing new weapons.

The administration wants to lift the 1993 statutory ban imposed on developing "mini-nukes." But these weapons are far from the type of small, surgical-strike weapons that the name suggests. They will not keep us safer or more secure. Mini-nukes are a dream come true for rogue regimes and terrorists, and a nightmare for every other nation on Earth. Just one of these weapons, carried by a terrorist in a suitcase, can devastate an entire city. A five-kiloton weapon would be half the size of the Hiroshima bomb.

Some claim that these weapons are needed against deeply buried, hardened bunkers. But current technology will allow such a warhead to burrow only fifty feet into the ground or less. Detonating even a one-kiloton weapon at that depth would create a crater larger than the World Trade Center, larger than a football field. It will spew a million cubic feet or radioactive dust into the atmosphere. Imagine what a five-kiloton blast would do.

Not only is the Bush administration developing their new nuclear weapons, it's also rushing to test them. As Deputy
Assistant Secretary of Defense, Fred Celec said in 2003, if you, "design a new nuclear weapon .    .    . you will probably have to have a nuclear test."

In fact, the administration coupled its request to design their nuclear weapons with a request to speed up the time it would take to test them.

No one questions the safety of our nuclear stockpile. This accelerated test readiness is not needed to preserve our existing arsenal. The only reason for rushing to achieve the shortest possible testing time is to test new kinds of nuclear weapons.

Consistent with this goal, the administration has also requested funds to design a large-scale production facility for plutonium pits, which are factories for new nuclear warheads. The administration wants a facility able to produce 500 of these pits a year, a level that far exceeds what is needed to maintain the current stockpile.

The administration claims that it is reducing its current nuclear stockpile from 7,500 tactical warheads to less than 2,200.
But while they plan for these reductions, the Department of Energy continues to ask for funding sufficient to support the stockpile levels set by the START I Arms Control Treaty in 1991 a level set before the fall of the Soviet Union. If we build 500 plutonium pits a year, it will far exceed the number needed for the current stockpile, even if we make the reductions planned by the administration. The numbers don't add up. We are escalating the nuclear arms race, not reducing it.

These actions demonstrate the administration's contempt for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the foundation of all current global nuclear arms control. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed in 1968, has long stood for the fundamental principle that the world will be safer if nuclear proliferation does not extend beyond the five nations that possessed nuclear weapons at that time—the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and France. It reflected the worldwide consensus that the greater the number of nations with nuclear weapons, the greater the risk of nuclear war.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty has clearly prevented a worldwide nuclear arms race. Since the treaty was signed, only five additional nations acquired nuclear weapons, and out of them South Africa later got rid of them. Israel, India, and Pakistan never signed the treaty. North Korea signed it in 1985, but withdrew from it last year.

The Bush administration's policy jeopardizes the entire structure of nuclear arms control so carefully negotiated by world leaders over the past half century, starting with the Eisenhower administration.

The history of those years is still vivid in our minds. I was 13 years old on that fateful day in August 1945, when a B-29 bomber named "Enola Gay" dropped the first nuclear weapon, "Little Boy," over Hiroshima. More than four square miles of the city were instantly and completely destroyed. More than 90,000 people died instantly. Another 50,000 died by the end of that year. Three days later, another B-29 dropped "Fat Man" over Nagasaki, killing 39,000 people and injuring
25,000 more.

In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, it became clear that two oceans could not protect us from a nuclear attack at home.

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 showed the entire world how close it could come to catastrophe, and gave supreme urgency to nuclear arms control.

In 1968, the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in Moscow, London, and Washington, DC, and went into full effect in 1970. For the next 20 years, the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated a series of landmark treaties to keep the world from blowing itself up.

Some say these efforts on arms control have not prevented the spread of nuclear weapons. But look at the past 15 years; South Africa, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine—the world's third largest nuclear power—renounced the use of nuclear weapons and joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear states.

Britain and France ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Even though the U.S. Senate did not ratify this landmark treaty, every signatory and ratifier has obeyed the spirit of the treaty and not tested nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia have removed thousands of nuclear weapons from alert status, reduced the number of weapons, and coordinated in protecting nuclear materials from theft.

Without this amendment, we turn our backs on five decades of progress in reducing the threat we and the world face from nuclear weapons. Some in the administration argue that in today's world the yield of the nuclear weapons in our current arsenals is so immense that our enemies know that we will never use them. They argue that these massive nuclear weapons have no deterrent value against many of today's adversaries and that we need smaller, more "usable" nuclear weapons to make deterrence more credible.

In fact, if we start treating nuclear weapons as just another weapon in our arsenal, we will increase the likelihood of their use—not only against our adversaries, but also against ourselves. We would be dangerously blurring the line between nuclear and conventional weapons, and tear down the firewall between these weapons that has served us so well in preventing nuclear war in the entire half-century since World War II.

As Secretary of State Powell said last year, "Nuclear weapons in this day and age may serve some deterrent effect, and so be it, but to think of using them as just another weapon in what might start out as a conventional conflict in this day and age seems to me to be something that no side should be contemplating."

It is difficult to believe that these new types of nuclear weapons serve any rational military purpose. As we saw in the first Persian Gulf war and again in the war against Iraq, precision-guided conventional and stand-off weapons serve us incredibly well. How could low-yield nuclear weapons be any more effective than the precision-guided conventional weapons? And their radioactive fall-out would be far more dangerous to our ground troops and to civilian populations.

Our goal is to prevent nuclear wars, not start them. I urge my colleagues to approve the Feinstein-Kennedy amendment, and say "no" to any such fateful step on the road to nuclear war.

I wanted to thank my good friend and colleague from California for her presentation earlier this afternoon and also for her eloquence when we addressed this issue earlier in the session. She has reminded us in this body about how this administration has been evolving its whole nuclear policy with very subtle changes, moving us in a very dramatic and different direction than has been generally embraced over the period of the last 50 years.

What she has commented on, and what troubles me and, I think, increasingly Members of the Senate at these hearings that have been held, by and large under security conditions and not in the broad daylight for public debate and discussions—I think, hopefully, as a result of these discussions and the understanding we have developed here, and has been particularly well developed—I think in the House of Representatives by many of those on both sides of the aisle, I might add,
Republican and Democrat alike, who have examined this in considerable detail, they have reviewed this and made a very strong recommendation we not move in this direction.

I don't think anyone can say our House colleagues have been negligent in assuring that we were going to develop the kinds of defense systems and also the defense capability to ensure the protection for our national security.

As shown on this chart, we review very briefly the half century of arms control. Going back over the period of time, in 1963 there was the Partial Test Ban Treaty, and there was the Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970. We also see the SALT and ABM Treaties, and also SALT II. These are all efforts by both Republicans and Democrats to move us away from the real dangers of nuclear confrontation and nuclear war. As we remember, a number of years ago we talked about the "nuclear winter" as well. We have seen enormous progress that has been made and great leadership by both Republicans and Democrats. Many of our colleagues in the recent past, such as Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn, with the development of the Nunn-Lugar provisions, tried to get those countries that have been willing to sign on and move us away from the dangers of nuclear proliferation, to get help and assistance from the United States to help them achieve that goal.
Now we have a very different direction.

Finally, we have these statements made by the administration. Fred Celek said:

If a nuclear bomb could be developed to penetrate rock and concrete and still explode, it will ultimately get fielded.

I have a bias in favor of the lowest usable yield because I have advised the use of that which will cause minimum destruction.

We are basically talking about an effort that recognizes a very important part of our history—Republicans and Democrats—to move us away from nuclear proliferation, and the United States has been a leader. Other countries have been willing. That has been the result of 50 years of work of Republicans and Democrats.

Now, in a world of increased tension, in many respects as a result of terrorism, we are finding ourselves in a situation where the administration wants to alter that policy in terms of development and testing. Mininukes—and there is really no such thing as a small nuke; a nuke is a nuke. It is no different by nature, disposition, and its capability. Those who have served in the military are familiar with a great deal of information regarding nuclear weapons. Our present Secretary of State wrote a book and included the comments I stated. As a former military officer, he understands this. At a time, frankly, when we are unsurpassed in terms of our military capability, why in the world do we want to develop small conventional systems which will trigger other countries to do that. That could compromise what we have today in terms of our military and our Armed Forces.

There is one modern military force in the world, and it happens to be the United States. We have to keep it that way. Why put at risk that advantage with the proliferation by other countries of small useful nukes—I think that is unwise—as well as the dangers it would pose in terms of the growth of terrorism.

I yield the floor.


Mr. KENNEDY. I saw the photograph that the Senator has of Hiroshima. I have a chart that gives us a for instance. If we use a 5-kiloton earth-penetrating nuclear explosion in Damascus—this is just a for instance, obviously—and they had the traditional winds that flow from the east to the west, it gives the general flowline of where the radioactivity and the dust would flow, but we can see roughly it would go from Syria, across northern Israel through southern Lebanon, just north of Haifa. The best estimates would be 230,000 fatalities and 280,000 casualties. This is a 5 kiloton bomb.

I have heard the Senator from California talk about the fact that this is a mini-nuke, but she has just again restated very clearly that there is really no such thing as a mini-nuke. We are talking about weapons that have such a massive, distinctive, unique, and special quality that they have such an extraordinary danger to all of those who are directly affected, and those who would be indirectly affected well into the future.

So we are looking at these casualties the Senator mentioned, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We can also look at what the casualties would be with the 5-kiloton earth penetrator that went down to 30 feet in depth. We are talking about major devastation that this country, as Senator Feinstein has said so eloquently, has never accepted—through Republican and Democratic control; this has not been a partisan issue over a long period of time.

Let me just ask the Senator a final question that is the question I think all Americans are wondering about: whether we have security of our current nuclear capacity. This is raised in discussion and debate. Why should we ever take a chance, in terms of what we do have, in terms of a current capability?

I have seen and read and heard the directors of the laboratories that have responsibility for this repeatedly indicate their sense of assurance. They are skilled, committed individuals who have dedicated basically their lives to ensure the deterrent capability of our capacity, in terms of nuclear weapons. They give the assurance to us that we can give to the American people that we have the capability and it is current.

I am just interested, as someone who has spent a great deal of time on this, because this is an issue that has been talked about a great deal even during the course of this debate, whether the Senator believes she can give assurances unequivocally to the American people from what we do have—from her knowledge of the lab directors—that we are able to give them the assurance that our nuclear stockpile is current and capable and ready to meet the test if called upon.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Through the Chair, respectfully, to the Senator from Massachusetts, I think no one can give an unequivocal statement that our nuclear supplies, plants, et cetera, are unequivocally safe. I think a lot of steps have been taken.

As to whether they are adequate to meet any challenge, I have never heard anyone say they were not.

Mr. KENNEDY. I appreciate the distinction the Senator has made. She gets to the nub of the issue: The question, in other words, is whether we have an adequate stockpile—more than an adequate stockpile, as the Senator has pointed out.

I thank the Senator. This is an issue of enormous importance and consequence. I share the view of the Senator that we have many different, important issues that are before Congress this year: Obviously, the overarching issues, the conflict in Iraq and the war on terror, and how we are going to deal with those, as well as other priorities to which we are committed. But the issue in terms of the security, even as we are thinking about the nature of terrorism, I think she would agree with me, is also related to the whole issue of the battle against terrorism, as well, in terms of what the potential may be in the future with the development of these, what they call mini-nukes, and what that means in terms of the proliferation issue.

I thank the Senator for her comments.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I thank the Senator from Massachusetts. The Senator was not in the Chamber. But the chart I used was of a predicted radioactive fallout from a B61-11, the 300-kiloton explosion in west Pyongyang, North Korea, using historical weather data for the month of May. It is a similar chart to what the Senator has shown, but it gives the 48-hour dose of radiation contamination. The possible effects of radioactive fallout should a nuclear weapon be used include, possible radiation burns; change in blood chemistry, hemorrhaging, as well as deaths in weeks or months—it is a terrible chart to have to look at. Of course, this is an extraordinarily large device, so we are not talking about a bunker buster. That is 300 kilotons. But that is the chart that we happen to have.

I think the thing that bothers me most about this program is that nobody really knows what is going to be produced with all this money. It always happens kind of under the shelf. Then the economics of it become so important that there needs to be a continuation of it. I really suspect that is why we ended up with 40,000 nuclear bombs—because once you get into it, it just keeps going and keeps rolling; there are constant demands. I think that is indicated by the fact that we have already appropriated $2.3 billion for this plutonium pit facility at Los Alamos and reportedly this pit facility, if it is able to be built correctly, can take care of all of the needs for the foreseeable future.

But this is another $4 billion program—that is over 10 years—of which an amount is authorized in this bill that we are trying to strike because there is no need for it. I think we have tried to lay out the arguments here. This is not an easy issue.
I really believe we will probably never have more of an issue of conscience in this session than we do in this vote. I think the House of Representatives have given their consciences a test and measured up by eliminating the funds. They said clearly we are not ready to spend these funds in the report language that I read and put in the RECORD. And the balance really rests with the Senate.

I suspect we may be defeated. It will be a conferenceable item, and all of those who want this new generation of nuclear weapons will end up prevailing. But I can tell you I don't want my fingerprint on it. I don't want to have to say what I have done to my children.

Every bit of information I have ever received indicates that with the most superior conventional weapons forces in the world, and an amount of money spent that is more than that spent by all of the nations put together, a huge nuclear arsenal, and the ability to dial up or down the kilotonnage of our nuclear bombs—my hope is we will continue our commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; that we will not be hypocritical; that we will live by our words, our statements; if we want other nations not to proliferate; that we will see that we do not develop the mechanisms by which proliferation is incentivized or carried out.

So I think this is a very big vote. I really hope the Members of this esteemed body will vote yes to strike the money from this bill.


Mr. KENNEDY. If I could inquire quickly of the Senator, as I remember, we had the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at that time in 1998 when we considered the comprehensive test ban treaty. We did not ratify it, but it was supported. I don't know, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, of any request by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they have made, any representation to the Armed Services Committee that they believe our nuclear capability and capacity is in any way threatened today.

We do have the testing capability. It takes anywhere from 24 to 36 months to move ahead on the tests. I don't know that we know of any requests made by the Joint Chiefs or any chiefs or the Secretary of Defense specifically suggesting our capability regarding our nuclear weapons is anything but robust and capable now. It is very important we know as we debate this issue. I would be interested in the Senator's answer to that.

Second, I understand what has been done with the separate amendment which prohibited the development and testing of mini-nukes, as well as a number of provisions in the Spratt amendment in the authorization committee. When we get a conference report, as a member of that conference, the conferees understand that issue will be resolved. The Spratt amendment will no longer be in effect.

So on the one hand the authorization committee will eliminate the Spratt amendment, which would have actually prohibited the development of anything below the 5 kiloton. Now we are on the second phase of this appropriations process in terms of the Department of Energy, and the Senator is saying the money in here cannot be used for this development. But it is clear, as the Senator from California has pointed out, from the Nuclear Posture Review, the debate on the authorization, and the elimination of the Spratt amendment, the continued effort to put the money in mini-nukes, this is the dangerous direction the administration is moving.

I hear what the Senator has said and the assurances the Senator has given to Members, but I wonder why we cannot have more clarity regarding the legislation.

Finally, I will add with regard to the scientists and what they were able and not able to pursue. As the Senator knows, we had the most extraordinary upgrading of weaponry, particularly in the Iraq situation, particularly on the precise guidance and precision bombs. We will not take the time in this debate to review it, but there has been absolutely extraordinary progress made in the area of conventional forces. The scientists have been working effectively. That has enhanced our capability.

I am interested whether the Senator knows of any Joint Chiefs who believe the nuclear weapon stockpile would require additional testing?

Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, let me answer this way: I don't believe there is a single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a single expert in the United States of America on its nuclear weapons arsenal, that if asked would they prefer that the Nevada Test Site be ready for tests in 18 months or 3 years, would not answer: 18 months; 3 years is too long.

If you ask me, I will tell you. I believe there is no one who is certain that over time what we are doing is going to work and that we are not going to have to go to testing at some time. Almost everyone says that. Since they say it, I am confident they would rather have the Nevada Test Site ready in a shorter timeframe rather than longer.

I thank the Senator for the question. I yield the floor.

Mr. KENNEDY. If the only question, then, is an issue of timing and upgrading the testing to reduce it from 2 years to 18 months or 2½ years, I don't think we would have an amendment here. We know that alone does not show the thrust of what we believe will be permitted with this policy.

I yield the floor.

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