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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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US using British atomic weapons factory for its nuclear programme

The US military has been using Britain's atomic weapons factory to carry out research into its own nuclear warhead programme, according to evidence seen by the Guardian.

US defence officials said that "very valuable" warhead research has taken place at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire as part of an ongoing and secretive deal between the British and American governments.

Last night, opposition MPs called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the extent of the collaboration at Aldermaston and campaign groups warned any such deal was in breach of international law. They added that it also undermined Britain's claim to have an independent nuclear weapons programme and meant British taxpayers were effectively subsidising America's nuclear programme.

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Another soldier who signed critical Iraq war column dies

A third soldier who signed onto a newspaper column nearly a year-and-a-half ago criticizing the war in Iraq has died, and his peers are mourning their friend as an “outstanding soldier” with “a thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity.”

Seven soldiers signed the column. In September 2007, two of the other U.S. soldiers who signed the piece were killed in a truck accident outside Baghdad.

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Report: Air Force units failed 2 more nuke surety inspections

The failures took place at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming from Dec. 2 to Dec. 17 and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., from Oct. 26 to Nov. 10, according to the report.

F.E. Warren was at the center of one of the two prior mishaps that cast embarrassment on the Air Force, the Times noted. Nuclear-missile units there mistakenly transported four Minuteman III forward sections containing sensitive components to Taiwan on two occasions, in October and November 2006.

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Army reports alarming spike in suicides last month

The Army is investigating an unexplained and stunning spike in suicides in January. The count is likely to surpass the number of combat deaths reported last month by all branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the fight against terrorism.

"In January, we lost more soldiers to suicide than to al-Qaida," said Paul Rieckhoff, director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He urged "bold and immediate action" by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. According to figures obtained by The Associated Press, there were seven confirmed suicides last month, compared with five a year earlier. An additional 17 cases from January are under investigation.

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Underreported: Nukes cost U.S. $52 billion last year

The study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that U.S. nuclear weapons spending — excluding classified programs — makes up 10 percent of the total defense budget, consumes 67 percent of the Department of Energy’s budget, and exceeds the total amount spent on international diplomacy and foreign aid, which is $39.5 billion. It also exceeds spending on technology, general science and space, which is $27.4 billion.

“Nuclear weapons pose the most serious threat to human life,” Cherie Eichholz, executive director of Washington PSR, wrote in an e-mail. “The numbers are highly disturbing, as is the fact that less than 10 percent of the $52 billion went toward slowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.”

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Minot base crew commander found dead

The body of a missile combat crew commander from the Minot Air Force Base was found by police, and the cause of his death is under investigation, the Air Force says.

A statement issued by the base Sunday said the body of Capt. Jonathan Bayless, 28, was found Friday night. Police did not give details but said it was in an area north of the city soccer complex, and they are awaiting autopsy results.

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Weight of Combat Gear Is Taking Toll

Carrying heavy combat loads is taking a quiet but serious toll on troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, contributing to injuries that are sidelining them in growing numbers, according to senior military and defense officials.

Rising concern over the muscle and bone injuries -- as well as the hindrance caused by the cumbersome gear as troops maneuver in Afghanistan's mountains -- prompted Army and Marine Corps leaders and commanders to launch initiatives last month that will introduce lighter equipment for some U.S. troops.

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