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    Bush denied nuclear bunker-buster funds

    The United States Congress has denied the Bush administration funds to study a new generation of nuclear weapons, omitting the money from a huge mop-up spending bill it passed over the weekend, lawmakers have said.

    The final $US388 billion spending bill did not include the $US36.6 million President George W Bush sought to study so-called bunker-busting nuclear weapons that would be used to destroy underground facilities as well as smaller nuclear arms with half the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

    The White House said it had no plans to build such weapons but wanted to keep the door open to their development to deal with emerging threats.

    Democrats said just considering the weapons takes nuclear warfare out of the realm of the unthinkable and encourages adversaries of the United States to develop such weapons.

    When pressed by Representative David Hobson, who chairs the House of Representatives sub-committee that oversees nuclear weapons spending, Senate and House negotiators backed the House position to omit the money from the huge spending package that Congress passed over the weekend.

    "If we are to convince other countries to forgo nuclear weapons, we cannot be preparing to build an entire new generation of nuclear weapons here in the US," said Democratic Representative Ed Markey.

    Mr Markey said this "should send a strong signal to the Bush administration to drop this weapon from next year's Budget request".

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