Strategic Weapons: February 17, 2000

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Because the Russian Duma has yet to ratify the START II treaty, the US has been obliged to resume production of tritium gas for use in hydrogen bombs. The problem is that the original tritium production facilities were shut down when it was assumed that START II was at hand, and now the US will have to produce tritium for weapons at the Watt's Bar nuclear power plant, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. This facility is a civilian power plant that has never been used before to produce weapons materials. Arms control advocates insist that this sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world (that if the US can produce weapons at a civilian facility, anyone else can do so). The alternative, however, is to allow the US nuclear stockpile to deteriorate to the point it cannot be expected to produce the required yields. --Stephen V Cole

 


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