Monday, November 28, 2005

U.S. alters nuclear weapons policy Congress rejects 'bunker busters' for more reliable arms

James Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, November 28, 2005

After struggling in recent years to redefine U.S. nuclear policy, Congress turned the country in a new direction this month by giving millions of dollars for a program aimed at producing a smaller arsenal of more reliable warheads.

Lawmakers killed the widely criticized nuclear "bunker buster" concept, which critics regarded as too aggressive, and instead appropriated $25 million for research on what is called the reliable replacement warhead, or RRW. Though that initial sum is relatively modest, it signifies an important policy shift that could end up costing many billions of dollars.

Even some arms control advocates have applauded the decision, because many see the new program as a sharp scaling back of the Bush administration's once soaring nuclear ambitions.

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