Plans for Testing Site of the Space-Based Laser will be Announced Soon
Livermore's NIF Project Running Billions of Dollars Over Budget
You Can Now Buy Uranium Online
Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear
Power in Space, recently found that the U.S. Ballistic Missile
Defense Organization will be releasing a draft environmental impact
statement in next couple of months regarding where the government
will test the Space-based Laser.
The Space-based Laser is the
real Star Wars. It consists of 20-30 satellites orbiting earth
and having the capability to hit targets in space and on earth.
Presently the four sites under consideration are: Redstone Army
Arsenal in Alabama, Stennis Test Center in Mississippi, and two
site in Florida, Cape Canaveral or the Kennedy Space Center.
idea of weapons in space all started on March 23, 1983, when then
President Ronald Reagan announced his plan to build a shield against
nuclear weapons. In the last eighteen years, U.S. taxpayers have
spent $70 billion on various "Star Wars" designs with little to
show for it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the
Clinton/Gore National Missile Defense will cost up to $60 billion.
The Republicans, on the other hand, want the U.S. to build a massive
missile defense "triad" consisting of sea-, space-, and ground-based
interceptors. According to the Council for a Livable World, this
system would cost at least $120 billion. The Center on Strategic
and International Studies estimate that a truly "robust" system
could cost up to $240 billion, which is four times the estimated
costs of the Clinton/Gore plan. The "robust" system was endorsed
by Republican Presidential nominee George W. Bush in his May 24th
speech on nuclear weapons and U.S. foreign policy.
Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California has been
constructing a giant laser called the National Ignition Facility,
or NIF. According to a report written by the General Accounting
Office and released last week, this project will cost taxpayers
nearly $2 billion more than the original estimation of $2.2 billion,
and will be delayed by at least six years. These factors are eroding
the projects political support. The process that will be used
by NIF, if the project is ever realized, is to heat and compress
pellets of nuclear fuel with 192 converging laser beams. Supposedly,
this will help study nuclear weapons without exploding them.
There are many technical questions regarding the project, and some
scientists believe the project will never work and should be abandoned.
The accounting office report states that, "the cost of NIF could grow even
higher and completion of the project could take even longer" than the
revised estimates suggest. The report also found that the former director
of the NIF project withheld information regarding problems with this
NIF is part of the United States program to ensure the safety and
reliability of its nuclear stockpile.
On June 1st, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, sent a letter to New
Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, asking that NIF's funding be increased by $95
million. This would more than double the Clinton administration's original
request. Richardson wrote that, the money "will come from other Stockpile
Stewardship Program activities."
This proposal will probably be met with resistance because other labs like
Los Alamos National Laboratory, would then receive less funding.
Radioactive uranium can now be bought on the Internet. According
to the director of marketing for New York Nuclear Corporation,
``An (Internet) auction for uranium seems far out, but it's really
quite straightforward. It's like any other commodity.'' Through
the website, the 430 nuclear power plants around the world can
purchase uranium fuel needed to make electricity through this
Internet auction process. These nuclear power plants supply about
20 percent of the world's electricity.
Buying uranium online first
occurred this past July. According to an online broker, ``Any
physical movement of uranium must be from a licensed producer
to a licensed trader or buyer.'' Corporate representatives selling
uranium online from the United States, England and South Africa
say there is no additional risk and that it would be nearly impossible
for terrorists to buy uranium fuel online.
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