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"Secret Mission?"

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Bush War Agenda May Be Getting Ugly


By James Donahue

June 2005


A Reuters News story quoted the New York Times as saying the United States plans to produce a highly radioactive plutonium “for secret missions.”


The story said plans are to produce 330 pounds of plutonium 238 during the next 30 years at Idaho National Laboratory. The program would cost $1.5 billion and generate over 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste, according to the Times.


What is alarming is that plutonium 238 is hundreds of times more radioactive than plutonium 239, which is used in building nuclear arms. The Times story quoted medical experts as saying that the stuff is so deadly that inhaling even a speck poses a serious threat of lung cancer.


The question is poised then, what are these “secret missions” that call for the use of such a dangerous substance? There are rumors that the Bush Administration is exploring new and more destructive bombs than the hydrogen bombs now stored in the arsenals.


The newspaper notes, however, that plutonium 238 has never played a central role in nuclear arms, but instead, is valued for the steady heat it produces that can be turned into electricity. Bush has been calling for construction of new nuclear powered electric generating plants in the United States. But would they risk entire communities and neighborhoods by utilizing such a deadly heat source?


One other thought. Batteries made from plutonium 238 have been used to power spacecraft that probe deep into space where sunlight is too dim to work on solar cells. Would the fact that Bush has called for a manned mission to Mars have anything to do with the production of this stuff?


From all we have learned about such a flight, a mission that far into space will be dangerous enough for a space crew without carrying even a spec of plutonium 238 as part of the payload.


Whatever the plan, we smell trouble here. It will be the first time the U.S. has produced plutonium 238 since the Cold War. The Times noted that the stuff was used in the past to power “espionage devices.”


But the story quoted Timothy Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the U.S. Energy Department, as denying that any of the classified “missions” would involve nuclear arms, satellites or weapons in space.


Frazier said the reason for the production is “for national security.” And that doesn’t tell us much.


President Bush has attempted to justify the U. S. invasion of Iraq as a defense move for national security. We were told that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction that former dictator Saddam Hussein planned to use against the United States.


Even though we went ahead with the invasion and no weapons were found the war rages on. There have been no apologies. Now the mission has changed to that of freeing the people of Iraq and turning the country into a war-torn, highly radioactive and deadly democracy.


Something smells about just about everything this administration has been doing.

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