Friday, Aug. 6, is the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Alaskans, citizens of the only country to use nuclear weapons, are invited to reflect on that tragedy and to commit ourselves to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.
In June, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee courageously removed all the funds for new nuclear weapons in the House version of the energy and water appropriations bill (HR 4614). The House action represents a step toward a more sane U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
The Senate should follow suit. Unfortunately Alaska's Congressman Don Young did not cast a vote on this bill.
Continuing its drive to develop new, more usable nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has requested increased funding for research on new nuclear weapons. In its request to Congress for fiscal year 2005, the administration requested $27.6 million for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, or nuclear "bunker buster," and $9 million for the Advanced Concepts Initiatives, which could be used to develop low-yield nuclear weapons. But the administration is struggling to dissuade Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons of their own.
This "do what I say, not what I do" attitude hinders U.S. nonproliferation efforts and is making the world a more dangerous place. The administration's determined pursuit of new nuclear weapons signals that these weapons are not only acceptable to have, but are usable. This is the wrong message to send to the rest of the world.
Because Sen. Ted Stevens serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alaskans are in a unique position to influence this ill-advised legislation. Sens. Stevens and Murkowski should be urged to vote to cut funds for new nuclear weapons from this bill. We need to tell them that new nuclear weapons will not bring security. In fact, such weapons will make the world less secure. They need to shift funding away from new nuclear weapons to initiatives that support arms control and disarmament.
And on Friday, Aug. 6, take a moment to remember the more than 170,000 people who died instantly when the United States dropped an atomic bomb. There will be a silent vigil at noon at Marine Park on Aug. 6 to mark this tragic day.