Bush announces new nuclear cut-back

PRESIDENT George Bush said last night that the United States would cease production of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium in order to discourage the spread of nuclear weapons, writes Christopher Bellamy. Some observers pointed out that with vast quantities of nuclear fissile material having to be disposed of as thousands of warheads are destroyed continued production is in any case nonsensical.

Nuclear weapons experts also said that while referring to plutonium and highly enriched uranium, Mr Bush did not mention tritium, a crucial ingredient of fusion ('hydrogen') and 'boosted fission' weapons. Tritium has a very short life and is the one ingredient which has to be continually replaced to keep modern nuclear arsenals functioning. Gary Milholin, the director of the Wisconsin Project, a nuclear watchdog group, said to be 'meaningful' Mr Bush should have announced a freeze on nuclear testing. He called the announcement 'fairly insignificant'.

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