NEW NUKE RESEARCH BLOWN UP?

It ain't dead, yet. But the Bush administration's push to research and develop new nuclear weapons could be on the verge of flat-lining, after a key Congressional leader moved on Wednesday to eliminate funding for the atomic arms projects.Ohio Republican Rep. David Hobson, who chairs the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, wiped out $96 million in nuclear projects from the government's budget for next year -- including funds for researching nuclear "bunker-buster" bombs and low-yield, "mini-nuke" weapons. Hobson also snapped the purse strings of projects to build thousands more plutonium hearts for nuclear weapons and to fast-track atomic testing.Just last week, the Department of Energy submitted a plan to pare thousands of weapons from America's existing nuclear arsenal. But, despite the proposal, much of the country's nuclear arms budget is still at "Cold War" levels, Hobson complained in a statement. The Energy Department "needs to take a 'time-out' on new initiatives until it completes a review of its weapons complex in relation to security needs, budget constraints and this new stockpile plan."Anti-nuclear activists were giddy after Hobson's stand. Two weeks ago, the full House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment to take away the money for researching the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator" -- a weapon designed to burrow deep into the ground before unleashing a nuclear hell-storm in underground bunkers. Taken together, activists said they believe the maneuvers forecast a gloomy future for a new atomic arsenal.My Wired News story has details.

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