The report accompanying the Senate Armed Services Committee bill, S.
1042, contains language regarding the controversial request to research
the feasibility of a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), or as it
is sometimes called, a "Bunker Buster." Last year, Congress
followed the lead of House appropriators in deciding not to fund an
RNEP study. This year, the House Armed Services Committee took a different
approach, taking "nuclear" out of the weapon's configuration,
and moving funding for the program from the Department of Energy to
the Department of Defense (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/078.html
.) House appropriators provided no Department of Energy funding for
RNEP in the FY 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill
The following are selections from the Senate Armed Services Committee
report (106-69) regarding RNEP, as well as report language regarding
possible nuclear weapons applications of research involving the Department
of Energy's Rare Isotope Accelerator.
ROBUST NUCLEAR EARTH PENETRATOR:
"The budget request included $15.2 million in PE 64222F for development
of nuclear weapons support, including $1.0 million for the development
of nuclear weapons and counterproliferation technologies to support
joint Air Force and National Nuclear Security Administration efforts
associated with logistics and aircraft integration for the Robust Nuclear
Earth Penetrator (RNEP). The committee notes that the evaluation of
RNEP feasibility by the Department of Energy is not scheduled to be
completed prior to 2007. Therefore, the committee recommends a decrease
of $1.0 million in PE 64222F for efforts associated with logistics and
aircraft integration for the RNEP."
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:
"The committee recommends $4.0 million for the robust nuclear earth
penetrator (RNEP), the amount of the budget request. Funding is provided
to prepare and execute the sled track impact test at Sandia National
Laboratories on the feasibility of case hardening and target penetration.
The committee has received testimony from the Secretary of Defense and
the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, on the continued proliferation
of hard and deeply buried targets and the resulting military utility
of completing the RNEP feasibility study.
"The committee notes that section 3117 of the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Public Law 108-136) prohibits
the Secretary of Energy from commencing the engineering development
phase (Phase 6.3) of the nuclear weapons development process, or any
subsequent phase, of a robust nuclear earth penetrator unless specifically
authorized by Congress. The funding requested is for Phase 6.2 feasibility
"The committee has not included the $4.5 million requested within
the Air Force budget for the development of logistics, integration,
and hardware requirements for carriage of the RNEP on the B-2 aircraft.
The committee does not believe that these activities are necessary to
evaluate the feasibility of RNEP."
RARE ISOTOPE ACCELERATOR:
"Subtitle A National Security Programs Authorizations
National Nuclear Security Administration (sec. 3101)
"National security implications of the Rare Isotope Accelerator
"The committee is aware that the Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA)
is a high priority civilian science facility under study by the Department
of Energy Office of Science. The committee understands that RIA would
allow precise measurements of nuclear physics phenomena through the
development of beams of isotopes that are 10 to 100 times more powerful
than those available today and in many cases not available at all. The
committee believes such research into the fundamental structure of matter
may have possible utility in the analysis of nuclear weapons physics.
"The committee directs the Secretary of Energy to report to the
congressional defense committees no later than 90 days after enactment
of this Act on the potential utility, if any, of data from the RIA on
issues concerning national security and on any duplication between the
potential capability of the RIA and any capabilities being developed
with atomic energy defense funds."