Jeff Cohen / RootsAction.org & Jackie Cabasso / Mayors for Peace – 2011-06-21 00:41:17
US Mayors Say: Bring War Money Home!
Jeff Cohen / RootsAction.org
(June 20, 2011) — The US Conference of Mayors has just done something it hasn’t done since Vietnam, passing a resolution that supports efforts to speed up the ending of our current wars and calls on the President and Congress to “bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs.”
Events are snowballing. The President is about to announce whether he will violate his commitment to a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan in July. The House of Representatives is passing amendments blocking funding for the Libya War, and 10 congress members have sued the president in court to end it. Iraq, we are told, may soon “request” a continued occupation into next year. A CIA war in Yemen is ramping up, along with that in Pakistan.
Enough is enough. Robert Gates just told the New York Times these are wars of choice. Let’s make a different choice.
USCM Adopts Disarmament Resolution!
Jackie Cabasso / Mayors for Peace
(June 20, 2011) –The US Conference of Mayors, the national association of cities with populations over 30,000 today unanimously adopted a resolution calling on President Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement the United Nations Secretary-General’s 5-point plan to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, by the year 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace, and calling on Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems, to slash spending on nuclear weapons well below Cold War Levels, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.
The resolution was introduced in the final plenary by International Affairs Committee Chair, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, CA. Unlike the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution adopted later, the Mayors for Peace resolution was not pulled for for discussion and a vote, and therefore was not debated.
In an historic speech to the USCM yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Mayors for Peace and its Cities Are Not Targets campaign, with over 1 million signatures. The SG also thanked the UN for its resolution supporting his 5-point plan for nuclear disarmament. Ban was greeted enthusiastically by the American mayors, who gave him standing ovations at the beginning and conclusion of his speech. Linking the global and the local, the SG told the USCM: “The road to peace and progress runs through the worlds cities and towns.”
I urge you to use and promote the Mayors for Peace resolution in your education and advocacy along with the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution. They are mutually reinforcing and complimentary. Following his speech to the USCM on Saturday, the Mayor of Kabul Afghanistan joined Mayors for Peace. He told me that his city had been 90% destroyed by war, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think this little story nicely ties the two resolutions together. Many thanks to everyone who helped get co-sponsors.
Next step: Mayors for Peace currently has more than 4,700 members in 150 countries; over 175 in the US. We’ve launched a new recruiting drive with the goal of reaching 5,000 member cities by the August 6th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima. At that point, Mayor Matsui, the new Mayor of Hiroshima, will be able to announce that Mayors for Peace represents the wishes of more than one billion people around the world. I hope you’ll help us reach our goal.
The resolution, as adopted, with the list of co-sponsors, is attached. Also attached is an Information Brief on US nuclear weapons spending. (You may be shocked!)
Jackie Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, is the North American Coordinator of Mayors for Peace
Nuclear Weapons — at What Cost?
Western States Legal Foundation / Spring 2011
It is nearly impossible to calculate total annual US spending on nuclear weapons in a consistent manner. As explained by the Federation of American Scientists: â€œMost US Government spending on nuclear weapons-related programs is unclassified. But it is functionally secret since such spending is widely dispersed across many programs in several agencies and it is not formally tracked or reported.â€ Further complicating the calculation is determining the scope of programs functionally intertwined with the most obvious ones: research, development, testing and production of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.
According to an analysis by the Carnegie Endowment, the US spent over $52 billion in FY 2008 for nuclear weapons and related programs. This includes nuclear forces and operational support, deferred environmental and health costs, missile defense, nuclear threat reduction, and nuclear incident management. It does not include classified programs, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, or nuclear weapons related intelligence programs.
Obamaâ€™s Nuclear Weapons Budget
His nuclear disarmament rhetoric not withstanding, on May 13, 2010, at the midpoint of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, in connection with submission of the new START US â€“ Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty to the Senate, President Obama submitted a classified report on a Congressionally-mandated plan to maintain and modernize US nuclear forces for the foreseeable future.
According to a White House fact sheet: â€œThe plan includes investments of $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complexâ€¦.â€ and â€œwell over $100 billion in nuclear delivery systems to sustain existing capabilities and modernize some strategic systemsâ€ by the year 2020.
A second White House fact sheet, released November 17, 2010, An Enduring Commitment to the US Nuclear Deterrent, increased the amount projected â€œto modernize the US nuclear weapons complex that supports our deterrent,â€ to â€œmore than $85 billion over the next decade.â€
In testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces on March 2, 2011, Dr. James Miller, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy increased the numbers again, stating: â€œThe Administrationâ€™s FY2012 budget reflects our commitment to the modernization of our nuclear arsenal for the long term, including some $125 billion over the next ten years to sustain our strategic delivery systems, and about $88 billion over the same period to sustain our nuclear arsenal and modernize infrastructure.â€
Unprecedented Nuclear Weapons Spending
Calling it an â€œunprecedented investment in ensuring the nuclear security of our country and our allies,â€ Thomas Dâ€™Agostino, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA), a semi-autonomous division of the Department of Energy, on February 16, 2011 declared: â€œDespite the economic challenges facing our nation and the budget pressures being felt throughout the federal government, the President demonstrated his commitment to our mission by proposing an unprecedented investment in ensuring the nuclear security of our country and our allies.â€
The Presidentâ€™s FY 2012 budget request includes over $7.6 billion for programs directly related to nuclear warheads. As stated in the official budget document: â€œThe Weapons Activities request is an increase of 8.9 percent over the Presidentâ€™s FY 2011 Request. This level is sustained and increased in the later out years.â€
The FY 2012 request includes increased funding for three new nuclear weapons production plants: the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building, a new plutonium â€œpitâ€ manufacturing facility at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico; the Uranium Processing Facility, a production facility for thermonuclear components under construction at the Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee; and a replacement for the Kansas City Plant in Missouri, where NNSA manufactures most nonnuclear nuclear weapon components. The 2012 budget request also includes â€œLife Extension Programsâ€ (rebuilds) for three warhead types including the B61 warhead, a US bomb still deployed at NATO bases in Europe.
According to Dr. Robert Civiak, former Program Examiner for Department of Energy nuclear security activities at the federal Office of Management and Budget: â€œEven though the US stockpile contains only one-fifth as many warheads as it used to, the 2012 request is the largest ever for Weapons Activities. After accounting for inflation, the $7.63 billion request is 21 percent more than Ronald Reaganâ€™s largest nuclear weapons budget and 19 percent more than President George H.W. Bushâ€™s highest spending level.â€
The Department of Energy budget covers only nuclear warheads. In addition, in response to the Presidentâ€™s commitment to modernize all three legs of the â€œstrategic triadâ€ of nuclear weapons delivery systems, the Department of Defense FY 2012 budget request includes $197 million for research and development on a new Air Force long-range bomber that would be ready for fielding in the mid-2020s.
In all, $3.7 Billion is slated to be spent in developing this nuclear-capable aircraft over the next five to six years. On January 6, 2011 Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Air Force would begin development of this new nuclear-capable strategic bomber, which can be remotely piloted. At present, there are no nuclear capable â€œdronesâ€ in the US arsenal. Plans are for 80 to 100 of these aircraft to be built.
The Pentagon budget request also includes $2.6 million to study a future Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and $1.07 Billion to develop a new ballistic missile submarine to replace today’s Ohio-class vessels.
Nuclear Weapons Forever?
On May 9, 2011, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon released details about H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012. The chairmanâ€™s â€œmarkâ€ of the annual defense authorization bill would fully fund NNSA at the Presidentâ€™s requested levels. The document also reveals the long planning horizon for nuclear weapons, specifying, â€œThe planned Ohio-class ballistic submarine replacement is expected to be in operations through 2080.â€
A 1998 study by the Brookings Institution found, as a conservative estimate, that the US spent $5.5 Trillion dollars on nuclear weapons from 1940â€“1996 (in constant 1996 dollars). Nuclear weapons spending during this period exceeded the combined total federal spending for education; training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science, space, and technology; community and regional development, including disaster relief; law enforcement; and energy production and regulation.
Nuclear weapons have threatened human security since they were used by the United States against Japan nearly 66 years ago. In a time of unprecedented global economic, environmental and political upheaval, can we afford to pay for them for another 70 years, hoping they wonâ€™t be used again?
Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation â–ª 655 13th St. Suite 201 â–ª Oakland, CA 94612