House opponents of new chemical weapons plan to resume their effort today to block a $142 million program to produce the Bigeye nerve gas bomb, saying that they have new evidence detailing technical problems with the controversial weapon.
A House-Senate conference committee authorized funds for fiscal 1986 last July after House leaders bowed to Senate wishes and removed a condition that Bigeye production be postponed for two years.
Earlier this month, the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense restored the two-year production delay after Bigeye opponents distributed a General Accounting Office report citing technical flaws in the weapon and concluding that funds for manufacture and procurement are "premature" until the problems are resolved.
Opponents, armed with the report and other GAO criticisms, are expected to try to have the funds deleted when the full Appropriations Committee meets today to mark up the fiscal 1986 budget.
"After seven years of testing, the bomb still doesn't work," a congressional aide said.
The GAO report said the Bigeye, in which two chemicals are mixed into a lethal gas after the bomb is dropped, fails to obtain the proper temperature for the chemical agent to achieve "minimum purity."
Pentagon officials, who say the Bigeye is essential if the United States is to deter a chemical attack by much better-equipped Soviet troops in Europe, argue that gases released by the bomb would be lethal enough to hamper the enemy.
Eleanor Chelimsky, director of the GAO's program evaluation and methodology division, has criticized the Pentagon for "inconsistency" in its reporting of Bigeye testing.
In a letter Oct. 2 to Donald A. Hicks, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, she said three different test results have been presented by the Pentagon this year and complained that Pentagon "confusion about its own results, and apparent inability to give us consistent information, reflects poorly, in our view, on the quality of the evaluation program and the manner in which it has been implemented."