The nuclear hawks want the ability to produce 125 new nuclear bombs a year by 2022. How did it come to this?
The Bush administration's nuclear program is a shell game with their ambitions hidden within the Energy and Defense bills, most under the guise of research. Their proposals originated in a position paper which is referenced in the Energy Policy Act of 2003, entitled, "A Roadmap to Deploy New Nuclear Power Plants in the United States by 2010".
The nuclear industry, along with government supporters, developed a roadmap for the realization of these goals. They intend to portray nukes as a safe, clean alternative to CO2 based plants. The energy bill references the "Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Program."
This is a determined, deliberate hard sell to get the nation back in the nuclear game. The nuclear provisions in the Energy bill are a tough read but they are designed to confuse.
The legislation designates INEEL, The Idaho Engineering and Environmental Laboratories, as the lead facility for nuclear R&D. This has been the nation's primary lab for all of the nuclear madness since 1952. INEEL's primary function since the mid 70's was the clean-up of their own toxic waste. This clean-up is still going on. There is money allocated in this bill for that.
New plants are contemplated in the Energy and Defense legislation which would utilize the new generation of recycled nuclear fuels (MOX mixed-oxide, hydrogen based, depleted uranium, etc.). These centers will almost certainly be formatted to accommodate the next generation of nuclear weapons, such as, mini tactical nukes and bunker- busters.
INEEL will undoubtably be at the center of this effort.
At the end of the decade support for nuclear energy was on the decline because of waste and safety issues and disarmament. Right before Bush II got in office, the industry, still fat from clean-up money sought to bolster their flagging industry. (INEEL gets 70% of their funding for waste disposal) Waste storage had become so controversial that it had soured the public to the idea of more nukes and more nuke plants. (Yucca Mountain, storage sites in New Mexico, transportation, safety issues, etc.).
So, they began promoting the view that the 'spent' nuclear fuel from decommissioned weapons and nuclear power plants could be broken down and reconstituted for weapons (depleted uranium) and a new generation of nuclear plants which would accommodate (recycle) and use the waste instead of immobilizing it in glass and storing it.
The industry makes the dubious claim that the recycled waste keeps it out of the hands of terrorists and makes proliferation more difficult. It will more likely disperse the waste and create more opportunity for abuse or mishap. But, they are pressing on, perhaps emboldened by the lack of effective opposition, or maybe it's just the last gasp of a fracturing plutocracy as they rape the Treasury to benefit their military industry benafactors.
I often wonder why there was no massive outcry from the public as Bush packed the government with military industry cronies from the start of his administration. I'm equally puzzled why we seemed to shrug off the scrapping of a generation of nuclear disarmament without so much as a blink as the Bush regime continues to advance their plans for a new generation of nuclear weaponry with new justifications for its use.
People of my generation, and the ones before mine fought a valiant battle against nuclear weapons. Perhaps the desire grew out of our childhood spent crouching under our school desks every Wednesday or Friday as the air raid siren blared out its nuclear drill. 'Duck and cover!' counseled Bert the animated turtle in the '60's era filmstrip. I grew to fear and hate communists and dread the inevitable nuclear attack.
The Japanese started campaigning against nuclear weapons in 1946 after the U.S. dropped the bomb on them. Citizens' groups in Hiroshima started a mass movement after March 1954, when a U.S. nuclear test dropped radiation on the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon, and citizens of Bikini. An petition was drawn up and signed by 32 million people in the world's largest anti-nuclear protest. In August 1955 the First World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs met in Hiroshima. The Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) was organized in Japan at the same time.
In the years that followed we saw the enactment of the Partial Test Ban Treaty; the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (I and II); the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (I and II); and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
These important restraints on the proliferation and spread of nuclear weaponry did not occur in a vacuum. These restraints were the result of direct action by communities and individuals engaging in massive, worldwide campaigns of public protest, over the strenuous objections of ruling parties and government powers. Notable among the modern nuclear resistors in the United States, included the Federation of American Scientists, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), Women Strike for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign.