Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Paul Richter says the Bush League is on the way to developing a new generation of nukes.
The annual defense authorization bill recently passed by the Senate Armed Services committee removes prohibitions on testing small nuclear weapons that has stood for ten years, and also authorizes development of a nuclear "bunker buster."
Unlike the proposed low-yield bombs, which have an explosive force of no more than 5 kilotons--five thousand tons of TNT--this weapon would have yields in the range of tens of kilotons, to a megaton, making it at least six times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
It would be intended to generate shock waves that could crush targets 300 meters below the earth, experts say. Critics contend the fallout would cover such a wide area and cause so many casualties that presidents would be reluctant to order its use.