Rumsfeld says new report does not recommend U.S. resume nuclear testing

Tuesday, January 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration's latest review of its nuclear strategy does not recommend the United States resume nuclear tests, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday.

Congress was expected to be briefed on the study, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, on Tuesday.

Following a television interview at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld was queried by reporters about a report in The Washington Post that the administration ``plans to raise the possibility that it might resume underground nuclear testing in the years ahead.'' The idea is to be brought up during the congressional briefings, the report said.

Quoting unnamed Energy Department sources, the report said the review will say the United States needs to be able to resume testing at its Nevada test site in less time than the two years it would now take under Energy Department guidelines.

The Pentagon chief declined to directly discuss the review, saying it is highly classified.

But asked whether it contained a formal recommendation to resume testing, he replied, ``Absolutely not.''

``It certainly doesn't recommend resuming testing,'' he added.

The Post report said the review will contain the administration's justification for reducing strategic warheads over the next decade from today's roughly 6,000 warheads to the level of 1,700 to 2,100 proposed by Bush at his meeting last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Post quoted one Energy Department source as saying, ``They do not want to say they are going to resume testing. They want the option to do so if they think they need it.''

In December, Bush announced that the United States will pull out in six months from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so it can test and build a missile defense system to protect against terrorists and rogue nations. U.S. and Russian officials are also supposed to begin talks on making new cuts in their strategic nuclear arms, even though they continue to disagree over the U.S. pullout from the treaty.

Bush has proposed cutting U.S. long-range nuclear warheads by about two-thirds, while Russia has said it would bring its warheads down to between 1,500 and 2,200.