Nuclear Weapon Initiatives: Low-Yield R&D, Advanced Concepts, Earth Penetrators, Test Readiness [Updated March 8, 2004]   [open pdf - 845KB]

"The Bush Administration completed its congressionally-mandated Nuclear Posture Review in December 2001. The review led to major changes in U.S. nuclear policy. It found that the Cold War relationship with Russia was "very inappropriate" and that this nation must be able to deal with new threats. It planned to retain Cold War-era nuclear weapons, which would suffice for many contingencies, though at reduced numbers. To complement these weapons so as to improve U.S. ability to deal with new, more dispersed threats in various countries, the Administration sought to explore additional nuclear capabilities...These initiatives are controversial. Supporters claim that the first three initiatives would enhance deterrence, thereby reducing the risk of war, and that some weapons that might result from the initiatives could enable the United States to destroy key targets in nations that may pose a threat. Critics are concerned that these initiatives would lead to nuclear testing, increase the risk of nuclear proliferation, and make U.S. use of nuclear weapons more likely...This report provides the policy context for the four initiatives. For each, it then presents a description, history, FY2004 legislative actions, the FY2005 request (for all but low-yield R&D), and issues for Congress. It is designed for those who want a detailed introduction to the debate, those seeking arguments and counterarguments, and those looking for answers to specific questions. It will track congressional and executive actions on these initiatives through updates as developments warrant." -- Summary

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32130
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