Cannon Supports Nuke Testing in Nevada

Cannon Supports Nuke Testing in Nevada

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Though Rep. Chris Cannon believes the cancer that took his father's life was due in part to radioactive fallout from the atomic-bomb testing in Nevada, he is supporting resumption of nuclear tests.

"To the degree that we have people blow up our skyscrapers and hiding underground we have to have the ability to respond to them," Cannon told the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday in Washington. "I don't ever expect we'll end up using a bunker buster, but the other side needs to know that we have them."

He said the tests should not be limited to a bunker busting nuclear weapon, but also include the existing nuclear stockpile to ensure the weapons have not deteriorated.

"What we really want here is deterrence. We want people to get out of their holes and into the democratic process and we want to scare them out," he said. "We need to give them the fear of destruction and hopefully, over time, people will recognize that the democratic system works."

Cannon believes nuclear tests can be conducted safely.

"With nuclear testing you have to be very careful," he said.

He said he was committed to making sure there are protections in place.

In its recently concluded session, the Utah Legislature passed and Gov. Jon Huntsman signed a resolution opposing resuming nuclear tests.

"A resumption of nuclear testing at the federal government's Nevada Test Site would mean a return to the mistakes and miscalculations of the past, which have marred many Utahns," the resolution said.

It "would signify a dramatic step backward in the United States of America's resolve to learn from its tragic nuclear testing legacy," the resolution said.

Residents downwind of the aboveground testing in the 1950s and early 1960s believe the fallout was responsible for increased cancer cases in southeastern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona.

As an attorney in 1979, Cannon worked with former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall and others to put together a lawsuit demanding compensation from the government for "Downwinders" allegedly sickened by exposure to radiation.

The case was lost on the ground of government immunity, but Congress later approved compensation payments to the Downwinders. The government so far has approved 8,744 claims from residents who have blamed their cancers on fallout.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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