Andrew Lichterman

On a media tour of the Nevada Test Site tunnel complex where the Divine Strake test is slated to take place, a Defense Threat Reduction Agency official implicitly acknowledged that the test data likely will be used to study nuclear weapons effects. According to the Las Vegas Sun,

“The detonation could simulate ‘a number of weapon concepts,’ said Doug Bruder, director of the counter-weapons of mass destruction program for the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

‘It could be nuclear or advanced conventional,’ he said. ‘A charge of this size would be more related to a nuclear weapon.’” Launce Rake, “Test blast linked to nuke weapons,” Las Vegas Sun, April 28, 2006.

But Bruder also continued the DTRA non-denial denials apparently aimed at diverting attention from the nuclear weapons effects testing purposes of Divine Strake, emphasizing that the test “‘does not replicate any existing or planned nuclear weapon.’” id. Bruder noted, however, that

“‘There are some very hard targets out there and right now it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to defeat with current conventional weapons. Therefore there are some that would probably require nuclear weapons.’” Las Vegas Sun, “Test blast linked to nuke weapons,” April 28, 2006

According to the Las Vegas Sun piece, some or all of Bruder’s statements were caught on tape by CNN. So far as I have been able to determine, CNN Burder’s remarks did not make it into CNN’s broadcast coverage (see CNN transcript, “On the Story,” “U.S. Tests Non-Nuke Bombs in Nevada Desert,” aired April 30, 2006)

To the extent that they confirm the nuclear weapons research and planning applications of Divine Strake, Bruder’s statements are consistent with previous government descriptions of the test series of which the test is a part. DTRA budget requests and other government documents reveal ongoing research aimed at better understanding how low-yield nuclear weapons can be used to destroy underground targets, and at upgrading strike planning techniques for determining what kind of weapon, whether conventional or nuclear, can best be used to destroy particular types of targets. For more analysis and document references, see previous posts regarding Divine Strake on this site.

UPDATE: Part of Bruder’s remarks were broadcast in another CNN segment: The Situation Room, April 27, 2006 (transcript here).