A group of Idaho's nuclear fallout victims and their supporters sent a letter last week to Idaho's governor, congressional delegation and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in protest of a recent NAS study into the possible effects that new nuclear weapons would have on civilians. According to the 40 authors, the existence of the study contradicts the Bush administration and Department of Energy's claims that no plans exist to test new nuclear weapons-and in particular a controversial bunker-busting bomb called the "Nuclear Earth-Penetrator."
The study, titled Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons, was begun in December 2003 to look into "the anticipated short-term and long-term effects of the use by the Unites States of a nuclear earth-penetrator weapon ... including the effects on civilian populations in proximity to the target area." According to the NAS's Web site, the study was intended to take nine months, after which a report would be released. No release date has been given for that report and the downwinder group claims the entire study was insufficiently publicized. As of press time, the head of the NAS study was not available for comment.
"Basically, what we're asking is that they cancel that study and if they want to start up bomb testing, that they do it in front of everybody," says Dr. Peter Rickards, one of the letter's authors. "We basically don't think [the nuclear earth-penetrator] needs to be studied or built at all, but if they're going to do it, at least let us comment on it."