Gayane Chichakyan / RT News & Charles Hoskinson / The Washington Examiner – 2014-10-31 02:00:38
US Nuclear Arsenal Feared In
Dire Straits Amid Army Scandals
Gayane Chichakyan / RT News
(September 7, 2014) — US has been spending hundreds of billions of dollars on its nuclear arsenal. But the spate of scandals surrounding those responsible for the thousands of warheads and the infrastructure raise questions over the security of the world’s deadliest weapons.
US Nuclear Arsenal
Due for Modernization
Charles Hoskinson / The Washington Examiner
(October 27, 2014) — The US nuclear deterrent is in need of an expensive modernization as Cold War-era weapons reach their age limits.
The program is both inconvenient and crucial. It’s inconvenient because the defense budget already is under severe political pressure and goes against President Obama’s central policy goal of nuclear disarmament. But it’s crucial because the specter of nuclear conflict has re-emerged more strongly than at any time since the end of the Cold War, with increased Russian hostility toward NATO and the expansionist ambitions of smaller powers such as Iran.
The Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget calls for dramatic increases in spending on a new manned bomber for the Air Force and a nuclear ballistic missile submarine for the Navy. The third leg of the nuclear triad, land-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, are being considered for modernization as well.
The budget also includes more funding for new warheads and missiles and for refurbishing existing ones.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the program would cost $355 billion by 2023, but that’s just a start. Deploying a new three-legged nuclear force is expected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.
Those plans are “unaffordable” under current budget constraints and “would likely come at the expense of needed improvements in conventional forces,” noted a bipartisan, congressionally appointed panel that reviewed US military strategy for a report issued in July.
They also clash with Obama’s oft-stated goal of weaning the world off nuclear weapons.
“What is clear is that the current plans to replace the nuclear arsenal do conflict with the administration’s policy of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons,” says Adam Mount, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Though the US nuclear stockpile has shrunk 85 percent from its peak in 1967, it remains a formidable force. The United States has 4,804 warheads deployed on 14 submarines, 85 B-52 and 19 B-2 strategic bombers, and 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, or kept in reserve.
Plans to modernize the force are based on the lower limits set by the 2011 New START agreement with Russia, which calls for a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads on 700 launch systems by February 2018.
To get that deal ratified by the Senate, Obama had to pledge in writing to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, and the Republican lawmakers who negotiated the pledge have pushed him to honor it.
Now they have a new reason to do so: Since the crisis over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine erupted in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly invoked his nation’s nuclear arsenal in warnings to the West not to push its disapproval of Moscow too far.
“We hope that our partners will realize the recklessness of attempts to blackmail Russia, will remember the risks that a spat between major nuclear powers incurs for strategic stability,” he told the Serbian newspaper Politika in an interview published Oct. 16.
Meanwhile, US officials are working to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran by a Nov. 24 deadline that would remove the threat of proliferation in the Middle East. And nuclear-armed North Korea remains dangerously unpredictable.
The specter of a new nuclear arms race has taken the edge off the president’s rhetoric and disappointed advocates of nuclear disarmament. In his annual speech in September to the United Nations General Assembly, the president highlighted past cooperation with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles and strengthen international nonproliferation agreements, but sounded a pessimistic note for the future, saying: “And that’s the kind of cooperation we are prepared to pursue again — if Russia changes course.”
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
(July 27, 2014) — America has over 4,800 nuclear weapons, and we don’t take terrific care of them. It’s terrifying, basically.
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