from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 27
March 10, 2004


A sharp increase in projected spending for a new nuclear weapons concept known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) suggests that the program is more than merely a conceptual study, according to an analysis this week from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

In response to public controversy over the new nuclear initiative, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in May 2003 that RNEP "is a study. It is nothing more and nothing less."

But with a five year projected budget of $485 million dollars, it now looks like something more, the CRS said.

"The FY2005 [budget] request document seems to cast serious doubt on assertions that RNEP is only a study," wrote CRS analyst Jonathan Medalia.

A government spokesman told CRS that the large projected increase in spending for the new nuclear weapon was merely "an artifact of the budget process [and] was inserted... as a 'placeholder' to protect the option of proceeding with RNEP."

See "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator Budget Request and Plan, FY2005-FY2009," CRS report RS21762, March 8:

A related CRS study on "Nuclear Weapon Initiatives: Low-Yield R&D, Advanced Concepts, Earth Penetrators, Test Readiness," newly updated March 8, may be found here:

Direct public access to CRS products like these is opposed by Congressional leaders such as Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), chair of the House Committee on House Administration, and by CRS officials.


One of the asserted justifications for a new type of earth penetrator nuclear weapon is the proliferation of hardened underground facilities around the world.

The JASON defense advisory group reported in a 1999 study that "Underground facilities are being used to conceal and protect critical activities that pose a threat to the United States."

"These include the development and storage of weapons of mass destruction, principally nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Underground facilities can also protect critical C3 installations and national leadership."

"Hundreds of underground installations have been constructed worldwide and many more are under construction."

See "Characterization of Underground Facilities," April 1999, here (68 pages, 3 MB):

"Use of underground facilities (UGFs) to protect and conceal WMD, ballistic missiles, leadership, and other activities is expanding," DIA Director Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.

"In 2003, we have observed more than a dozen new military or regime-related UGFs under construction," he said (p. 21).


The Department of Energy has resumed publication of its newsletter on agency classification policy after a two-year hiatus.

The new issue of CommuniQue provides some now-stale news on the March 2003 executive order on classification policy, along with more informative commentary on "Identifying and Protecting Official Use Only Information," and status reports on various classification guides that are under development.

See the new issue of CommuniQue here:


"Initiating a war on the basis of faulty or exaggerated intelligence is a very serious matter," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) yesterday. "That's just as true if one supported the war or not."

"The fact that the intelligence assessments before the war were so wildly off the mark should trouble all Americans."

Sen. Levin provided an itemized list of discrepancies between classified intelligence assessments and unclassified presentations of intelligence, all of which tended to present the public with an inflated assessment of the Iraqi threat, he said.

His statement was presented at the March 9 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee where DCI Tenet and DIA Director Jacoby testified. See:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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