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Pentagon says Nevada test is non-nuclear

April 7, 2006 at 10:04 AM

WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Department officials apologized to Congress for their "mushroom cloud" test plans that set off waves of concern among lawmakers.

Officials met with lawmakers to clarify statements about a scheduled military experiment to blow up 700 tons of explosives in the Nevada desert June 2 about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. They said the test was not designed to simulate a low-yield nuclear explosion as described in budget documents, The Washington Post reported.

James Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, offered his regrets for referring to a massive explosion that would generate a "mushroom cloud" of dust over Nevada.

The purpose of the Thursday meeting, as Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., told the Post, was to make sure "there is no safety threat to southern Nevada residents."

The test, code-named Divine Strake, was said to be part of an effort to "determine the potential for future non-nuclear concepts," the newspaper reported.

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