US Congress cool on proposal to build new nukes

A Bush administration proposal to build a new generation of more reliable nuclear warheads to replace the current stockpile was met with skepticism Thursday from leading lawmakers who will decide how much money to give the program. Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky, chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over nuclear weapons programs, said he was "troubled by the giddiness" at the Energy Department over development of the new warhead program. The panel's ranking Republican, Rep. David Hobson, said he was worried the warhead development was aimed not so much to meet the military's requirements but "to prove that we can still design nuclear weapons." Separately, three experts on nuclear nonproliferation, including former Sen. Sam Nunn, a former defense secretary, said that building a new warhead, even if only a replacement, sends the wrong message to the world and could make all the more difficult the resolution of the nuclear problems involving Iran and North Korea.