I am greatly opposed to the Administration's proposal to seek funding for research on a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). This nuclear weapon is not needed, sets the United States on a new course of developing nuclear war fighting weapons, and sends a counterproductive message to the international community at a time when we are trying to discourage other nations from developing nuclear weapons. I hope that you will support Senator Feinstein's amendment to eliminate funding for the RNEP program.
As you know, RNEP is intended to destroy deeply buried bunkers and/or underground stores of chemical or biological weapons. However, a recent National Academy of Sciences study (http://books.nap.edu/catalog/11282.html?onpi_newsdoc04272005) concludes that the weapon would have limited utility against such targets, and that its use could kill millions of people downwind from the explosion. Moreover, the United States already has precision conventional weapons that could collapse all entrances and exits to underground bunkers.
To illustrate the technical realities of the RNEP weapon, the Union of Concerned Scientists has produced a two-minute flash video that shows both the weapon's technical shortcomings and the consequences of its use. I strongly recommend that you and your staff consider and use this important resource--it can be found at: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nuclear_weapons/page.cfm?pageID=1781
Finally, I believe that Congress needs to match their words with their actions when addressing the cause of nuclear proliferation. If we are calling on other nations to refrain from building nuclear weapons, we should refrain as well.
I look forward to hearing your position on this important issue and hope that you will support Senator Feinsteins amendment to deny all funding for the RNEP program.