Mon Dec 14 15:02:05 1981
Lionel Designs Have Merit!
>From Weinstock@SRI-KL Mon Dec 14 15:01:58 1981
By Bruce Ingersoll
(c) 1981 Chicago Sun-Times (Field News Service)
WASHINGTON - The MX missile, if deployed on a special fleet of
camouflaged trains, would be ''fail-safe'' in a derailment and
''largely invulnerable'' to Soviet nuclear attack, says Sen. Alan J.
In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, Dixon reiterated his
opposition to President Reagan's plan to put nuclear-tipped MXs in
''hardened'' underground silos and commended the U.S. railroad
industry's proposal for a rail-borne MX system as an ''excellent
Dixon urged Sen. John G. Tower (R-Tex.), the Armed Services
Committee chairman, to ask the Office of Technology Assessment to
conduct a full study of the missile-train option.
''Many feel that railroad cars to carry the MX can be built now,''
he said. ''These rail cars could traverse perhaps 100,000 miles of
track currently available that would not bring the missiles into
large population areas.''
A fleet of missile trains, Dixon told his colleagues, would be
cheaper than any of the MX-basing modes now being considered by the
Pentagon and would not endanger the public.
''The weapon itself would be fail-safe against an inadvertent or
accidental nuclear explosion while moving on railroads,'' he said.
Dixon harked back to 1966, when a B-52 bomber collided with another
U.S. Air Force plane high over the Mediterranean coast of Spain,
dropping two hydrogen bombs on fields near Palomares and two more
into the sea. Because these nuclear weapons were ''unarmed,'' they
did not go off upon impact.
The Palomares incident indicates that an MX missile would not
detonate in a rail wreck, he said. The MX payload of 10 nuclear
warheads would be unarmed in transit, just as the hydrogen bombs were.
The rail-borne MX, he added, would ''provide U.S. strategists and
(strategic arms reduction) negotiators with a system that is largely
invulnerable to Soviet missile attack.''
Dixon cited a congressional study's finding that an enormous barrage
of nuclear warheads would not wipe out a widely dispersed fleet of MX
trains. He also cited a 1980 Pentagon study of MX-basing options,
which rated as satisfactory the capability of ''commercial rail'' to
withstand a nuclear attack.
The Association of American Railroads, which represents the 37
largest in the country, has been trying to persuade defense officials
to take a second look at the missile-train concept. The Air Force
tested a Minuteman III missile train successfully in 1960 but opted
instead for deploying the Minuteman III in silos.
Air Force officials now contend that MX trains would be vulnerable
to sabotage and terrorist attack and would be too easy for enemy
agents to track. The AAR rejoinder is that the Air Force could park
them on sidings at well-secured military bases and nuclear power
plants and could operate decoy trains as well.
In light of the Senate's 90-4 vote Dec. 2 against spending $334
million for research on Reagan's silo-hardening plan, AAR officials
hope for a thorough airing of their proposal. Dixon was drafting a
letter to his colleagues urging them to consider it seriously.
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