Weapons Watch:
An Every-Now-and-Then-Look at Weapons of War

by Mac Lawrence

October 2, 2000



Do What We Say? Do What We Do?

While the U.S. president urges India, Pakistan, North Korea, China, and Russia to halt or slow their nuclear weapons programs, and asks Russia to approve the START II treaty, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) plans to renovate thousands of aging nuclear weapons to more than double the 3000-3500 the U.S. is allowed under START II. The DoE refers to them as "inactive reserve"-warheads that are not deployed on delivery systems, but readily available to use.

You Can Never Have Enough Tritium

Though the U.S. has sufficient tritium (used to make nuclear weapons more explosive) for two decades for weapons allowed under START II and its planned successor START III, the DoE has decided to begin producing more at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. This crossing of the line dividing military and civilian nuclear uses invites other nations to produce nuclear weapons material in secret and raises concerns about the seriousness of the U.S. pledge to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Latent Killers: Landmines and Cluster Bombs

The U.S. State Department estimates there are 60-70 million landmines buried in 68 countries; other estimates run as high as 100 million. Landmines maim or kill every 22 minutes-26,000 people a year. Most victims are civilians; 30-40 percent are children. Landmines are currently being used in 13 conflicts. There are at least 250 million landmines stockpiled in 108 countries. The U.S. stores landmines in Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea.

The 1997 Ottawa Treaty Banning the Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Landmines has been signed by 135 countries, but the U.S. is not among them, joining with China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the Congo in refusing to sign the treaty. In addition, the U.S. is developing a RADAM "mixed-use" system which would cost some $200 million, contain anti-personnel mines, and violate the Ottawa Treaty.

The U.S. dropped an estimated 222,200 cluster bomb "bomblets" on Kosovo. With an expected "dud" rate of 5 percent, more than 11,000 unexploded bomblets remain.


       Mac Lawrence is an author and editor for the magazine Timeline, as well as a Swans' contributor.

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Related links

From Wounded Knee to Yugoslavia
- Compiled by Zoltan Grossman

Lest We Forget - by Wendell Berry

More Money Down the Military Drain - by Mac Lawrence

What Kind of Nation Neglects Everything BUT Weapons? - by Dale Bumpers


Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath


Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath


Published October 2, 2000
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