For the second year in a row, US congressional funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) program has been cut. The RNEP, commonly known as the ‘bunker buster’, has received widespread criticism from both Republicans and Democrats and, in 2004, appropriators zeroed the budget request. This year Congress once again agreed to cut the funding. Indications are that this cut signifies the end of the controversial program, although not the end of ambitions to create new nuclear weapons.
While the RNEP program might be dead, the drive for new and useable nuclear weapons has not died. Modernization of the US nuclear arsenal for tactical missions was called for in the Nuclear Posture Review and so continued monitoring is needed.