Iceland Bomb Report Denied

The U.S. government yesterday denied a widely publicized report that nuclear weapons were stored in Iceland during the Cold War. Breaking the government's policy of neither confirming nor denying where U.S. nuclear weapons are stored overseas, the deputy chief of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Robert Sorenson, said the report in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was "inaccurate."

The article was based on a declassified Pentagon history that was censored, deleting the names of various countries. One of the authors, William M. Arkin, said: "We may be wrong, but the evidence surrounding the nuclear history of Iceland continues to provide suspicions."

Taiwan Bill Clears Panel

Ignoring intense lobbying by the Clinton administration, the House International Relations Committee voted 32-6 for the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, a bill intended to strengthen U.S. commitments to the defense of Taiwan.

Originally drafted by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), the bill was rewritten to eliminate many provisions opponents considered provocative to mainland China. But it still calls for upgrading Taiwan-U.S. military relations and would require the administration to spell out its plans for defending Taiwan in annual reports. China denounced the bill yesterday. Floor action by the full House could come next week.

Mining Ban Rider Considered

West Virginia lawmakers are considering the remaining appropriations bills as a chance to overturn a recent court decision that bans mining companies from dumping rock and earth in most of the state's streams.

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.) said the congressional delegation is seeking to block last week's decision by U.S. District Chief Judge Charles H. Haden II either through the courts, by asking the Justice Department to intervene, or by attaching language to an upcoming spending bill.

"It has put a virtual standstill to mining in our state at the moment," Rahall said, adding that two companies have already ceased operations, with a loss of more than 60 jobs. U.S. Public Interest Research Group staff attorney Lexi Shultz called the plan "another sneak attack on our environment and public health."

Paducah Regulator Proposed

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called for an independent regulator to protect the environment and workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, where radioactive contamination has been seeping out for decades.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing, McConnell charged that allowing the Department of Energy to simultaneously operate and regulate the site "is like putting a mouse in charge of the cheese."

Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton told the panel state experts believe underground plumes of contamination already are depositing radioactive Technetium-99 into the Ohio River.