Nuclear bunker busters busted; meanwhile, Iran thumps its chest
Remember those nuclear bumper busters from the Kerry-Bush debates of '04? They reminded me a bit of Quemoy and Matsu in the Nixon-Kennedy debates of 1960: a big fuss made at the time, but then virtually forgotten.
Well, it's a mystery as to exactly why, but development of these nuclear bunker busters has been scrapped, at least for now:
The move to remove the funding comes at the request of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which has been the driving force behind the bunker buster. It is unclear why the chief proponent of the funding withdrew its request.
The folks in Utah, where the testing would probably have taken place, are very happy--which is understandable. NIMBY takes on a whole new meaning when it's the testing of nuclear weapons in one's backyard.
I'm wondering about the decision, though, in light of this other news of the day--the announcement by Iran's President that Israel should be "wiped off the map" (via Roger Simon). Wasn't it to combat Iran's development of nuclear weapons, which seems to involve underground storage, that such nuclear bunker busters were being developed? I can only hope that the reversal on the program represents a decision by scientists and strategists that conventional weaponry would work just as well with fewer dangers, rather than a decision that the program doesn't have the political clout to be funded. I would certainly prefer conventional weapons to nuclear ones myself, if the former can be effective.
There are a few other interesting details in the article about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement. Notice, for example, those who have spoken against it. One of them is Ebrahim Yazdi, a former Iranian foreign minister who said that Ahmadinejad's remarks hurt Iran:
"Such comments provoke the international community against us. It's not to Iran's interests at all. It's harmful to Iran to make such a statement," he said.
So, if I get this straight, it's another case of "nothing wrong with the remarks themselves but shhhh!, quiet about it! Let's keep it in the family; no need to get the international community onto us."
As for that international community, there are were other, and better, responses, some from surprising quarters:
In Madrid, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos summoned Iran's ambassador to protest Ahmadinejad's comments. Moratinos said he rejected the remarks in the strongest possible terms.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Baptiste Mattei also condemned the remarks "with the utmost firmness."
Of course, words are cheap. But they're better than nothing. Would that they were followed with meaningful actions.