Monday, February 09, 2004

BUSH ADMIN BALKS AT SECURING LOOSE NUKES

What is holding up an agreement between Russia and the Bush administration to destroy weapons grade plutonium from decommissioned missiles? Two things, according to the NYT:

First, Bush wants to make sure that the companies contracted to build the facilities where plutonium is transformed into fuel for nuclear power plants are protected from "almost all liability in case of accidents involving the release of radioactive material." This is a non-starter for the Ruskies.

Then there is the money issue:

"The Bush administration's budget plan for the Energy Department, released last week, said groundbreaking for a conversion factory planned for South Carolina had been delayed from July of this year until May 2005."

How much would it cost? About $2 billion. Seems like a pretty sound investment, to me at least, when weighed against the potential cost of invading countries to seize WMDs or the cost of a nuclear attack by terrorists or rogue states.

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