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  • Cutting the Nuclear Arsenal Even Further

    Representative Edward Markey (D–MA) has grave misconceptions regarding contributions that nuclear weapons make to the U.S. and allied national security. On Wednesday, he introduced a bill that would cut $100 billion in nuclear weapons programs. This bill is co-sponsored by 34 other Representatives.

    Not only would such cuts be disastrous for the already under-funded U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure; they would also call into question U.S. commitment to extended deterrence and viability of the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation. In addition, the proposed cuts would do very little to solve the country’s fiscal problems.

    Last October, Markey sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on the Deficit in which he stated that the U.S. spends “over $50 billion a year on the U.S. nuclear arsenal” and called on “the Super Committee to cut $20 billion a year, or $200 billion over the next ten years, from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget.”

    But according to Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense James Miller, the figure was close to $214 billion over 10 years (about $88 billion for the Department of Energy and more than $125 billion for the Department of Defense). Markey’s initial call of gutting $200 billion over the next 10 years would result “in the immediate and unilateral nuclear disarmament of the United States,” according to Congressman Mike Turner (R–OH). A $100 billion cut would be just as devastating.

    Currently, more than 30 countries all over the world rely on U.S. nuclear weapons. These countries have not developed their own nuclear weapons or expanded their current arsenals because they have believed that the U.S. would respond with a devastating force if they are threatened. Credibility—whether an enemy actor believes the U.S. will come to the aid of its allies—is a key consideration for any opponent when deciding whether to launch an attack. The credibility of U.S. nuclear weapons will diminish if they are not properly maintained. This could cause allies to develop or expand their current nuclear weapon arsenals.

    During the Senate’s consideration of New START, the Administration promised to increase funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. The Administration deemed these investments “essential to facilitating reductions while sustaining deterrence under New START and beyond.” The Administration, however, did not manage to secure funding for maintaining nuclear weapons laboratories and their core competencies in the fiscal year 2012 budget. Representatives supporting this bill are people who overwhelmingly support President Obama’s policies. To that end, it is even less clear that the Obama Administration will honor its earlier commitments to nuclear modernization.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Cutting the Nuclear Arsenal Even Further

    1. Jon says:

      There needs to be a balance between reducing our nuclear forces while also modernizing them. For instance, the B-2A should be the only heavy bomber we retain for the nuclear mission. There could also be cuts to our icbm force by closing one icbm base. This would also allow us to retain 12 deployed Ohio subs under the New START treaty without having to reduce slbms. Our ballistic submarines are by far our most valuable strategic asset and must be preserved at all costs. We do need to begin the process of designing and building a new fleet of ballistic subs. We don't need a new icbm. And we do need a new strategic bomber. Our fiscal crisis is real and must be addressed. Making our strategic arsenal exempt from cuts creates a national security risk by continuing to add to the deficit. Finally, as our arsenal shrinks, we must reinvigorate the nuclear industry and concentrate on fielding only the W87, W88, and B83 warheads. They are the most sophisticated, safe, reliable, and robust. Three different types offers plenty of redundancy.

    2. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Yeah, remember the 2nd Planet of the Apes movie in the original Charlton Heston sequence, where the remaining human population went under-ground and started to worship "the bomb". That's rather where the GOP will lead us with their fear based focus to spend every dollar they can muster for the military.

    3. Jeff says:

      No more reductions unless russia and china helps to stop Irans program. In fact we should build ours up if Iran continues their path to nuclear weapons.

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