Steve Rademaker, at the Arms Control Association, whined that arms control advocates treat the Bush Administration unfairly when it comes to the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP):
And particularly with regard to the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, I have to say I personally am mystified by the intensity of the debate that we’ve seen unfold in recent years. It’s called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator. Why is that? Well, the answer is, to distinguish it from the Nuclear Earth Penetrator. What is the Nuclear Earth Penetrator? The Nuclear Earth Penetrator is the B-61 Mod 11 that was deployed beginning in 1996 by the Clinton administration. The research and development on that began in 1993 – 1993 to 1996, a fairly critical period for the NPT, wasn’t it? The question before the parties was whether to extend the treaty.
At one point I actually asked my staff to go back and research … the complaints that were uttered by the arms control community in the period between 1993 and 1996 when the Clinton administration was researching, developing, manufacturing and deploying the Nuclear Earth Penetrator.
And do you know what they came back with? One article from Arms Control Today – (laughter) – three paragraphs long.
That was the debate on the Nuclear Earth Penetrator.
That’s really funny. It’s also not true.
Turns out, Rademaker didn’t mention one fact: the B61 Mod 11 program was classified.
If the program had been made public, there would have been a debate. Moreover, the successful U.S. effort to indefinitely extend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in May 1995 might have been jeopardized.
Rademaker just kind of left that out.
Rumors that Sandia was working on a new bomb eventually leaked in September 1995 and were covered in local papers connected to lab communities: the Tri-Valley Herald (Livermore), Sante Fe New Mexican (Los Alamos), and Albequerque Journal (Sandia). Many of the Journal’s articles were written by fellow blogger John Fleck.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists carried an article by Bill Arkin, in January/February 1996, calling the rumored development of a “new” nuclear weapon “stupid.”
The labs, however, denied that the B61 Mod 11 was anything special. And—with the budget request and congressional hearings classified—no one could argue otherwise.
The debate remained muted until the weapon entered the arsenal in early 1997. At that point, the New York Times, Aviation Week & Space Technology and other news sources extensively covered the B61 Mod 11.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists carried not one, but two, lengthy articles about the B61 Mod 11, and Arms Control Today published the only article that Rademaker’s obviously overworked staff was able to track down.
Now, I won’t say Mr. Rademaker is being dishonest. His staff may simply be incompetent. At the very least, no one in that office is reading the Bulletin.
That bothers me. After all, I’ve recently joined the Bulletin’s Editorial Advisory Board. I will—out of my own pocket—provide Mr. Rademaker with a subscription to Bulletin if he sends me his home address.
I will also send Rademaker a copy of The Very Best of Marvin Gaye.
Why Marvin Gaye? Well, Rademaker’s wife, AEI’s Danielle Pletka, answered a survey administered by the Washington Post that included the racy opening “In my bedroom you’ll find…”
Pletka answered, “Stacks of Arms Control Today.”
Just maybe the sweet sounds of the Prince of Soul will persuade Steve and Dani to leave the Bulletin out on the coffee table.