US ‘Can’t Wait Any Longer’ to Buy New Nukes Says Obama’s War Chief

November 9th, 2016 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Tim Johnson / McClatchy News & Alex Emmons / The Intercept – 2016-11-09 00:49:40

Defense Secretary: US ‘Can’t Wait Any Longer’ to Buy New Nukes

Defense Secretary: US ‘Can’t Wait Any Longer’ to Buy New Nukes
Jason Ditz /

(November 7, 2016) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter, delivering a speech at Strategic Command headquarters, has ratcheted up ongoing Pentagon calls for massive spending increases, particularly on the creation of new modern nuclear weapons, claiming the current arsenal is becoming “antiquated.”

Carter rattled off a list of potential nuclear “foes,” including Russia, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Iran, insisting that while the US had “under-invested” in nuclear arms all those nations “consistently invested” in such weapons.

The Pentagon has been talking up this modernization scheme for years, and the estimated price tag has continued to rise precipitously throughout, with the plan likely to be well in excess of $1 trillion when all is said and done. Carter, like other Pentagon officials, mostly ignored the cost in his comments, insisting the program is vital.

Despite the US having one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, Carter insisted that potential “adversaries” aren’t deterred by them anymore because they’re pretty old, and conceivably some of them might not work. This too has been a recurring argument from the Pentagon.

Yet with the US arsenal large enough to exterminate the entire human race several times over, the possibility that a few percent of the bombs might ultimately be duds because they’re old seems to have minimal logical impact on deterrence.

Will Boosting Spending on Nuclear Weapons Deter US Enemies?
Tim Johnson / McClatchy

WASHINGTON (November 3, 2016) — The United States “can’t wait any longer” to update its aging nuclear arsenal to keep it from becoming antiquated, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday.

Carter, speaking at a ceremony at the headquarters of the US Strategic Command in Nebraska, called urgently for recapitalizing or replacing nuclear weapons delivered from land, air and sea “so they don’t age into obsolescence.”

Striving for a world free of nuclear weapons is a noble goal, Carter said, but may not be achievable in the short term, so the US government must “correct for decades of underinvestment” as a way to deter foes no longer afraid of its aged nuclear weapons.

For a quarter century, since the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon has made only “modest investments” in maintenance and sustainment of its nuclear arsenal, Carter said. “While we didn’t build anything new for 25 years, and neither did our allies, others did — including Russia, North Korea, China, Pakistan, India, and for a period of time, Iran,” he said.

US spending won’t spur a nuclear arms race by potential foes, Carter asserted. “The evidence is just the opposite,” Carter said. “They have consistently invested in nuclear weapons during a quarter century pause in US investment.”

If some assets in the US nuclear arsenal aren’t replaced, “we’ll lose them, which would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter — something we can never afford,” he said.

Carter called for replacing nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, and for building new ballistic missile submarines and more modern land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be cheaper to maintain. He also called for spending in command-and-control systems, including satellites, radar systems, ground stations, control nodes and communications links.

Space, once a virtual US sanctuary, is turning into a potential battlefield, an area that is “congested, contested and competitive,” he said, and the Pentagon works to deter attacks in and from space.

“Our new investments aim to foil those efforts — whether an adversary aims to blind our reconnaissance satellites with lasers, disrupt our satellite communications with jammers or use kinetic means like a co-orbital attack or a direct ascent missile to destroy the space-based capabilities that support our forces,” Carter said.

The Strategic Command, one of nine combatant unified commands, is headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten assumed the lead at StratCom Thursday.

Obama’s Russian Rationale for $1 Trillion Nuke Plan Signals New Arms Race
Alex Emmons / The Intercept

(February 23 2016) — The Obama administration has historically insisted that its massive $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program does not represent a return to Cold War-era nuclear rivalry between Russia and the United States.

The hugely expensive undertaking, which calls for a slew of new cruise missiles, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and long-range bombers over the next three decades, has been widely panned by critics as “wasteful,” “unsustainable,” “unaffordable,” and “a fantasy.”

The administration has pointed to aging missile silos, 1950s-era bombers, and other outdated technology to justify the spending, describing the steps as intended to maintain present capabilities going forward — not bulking up to prepare for a future confrontation.

Last year, speaking to NATO allies, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter insisted that “the Cold War playbook . . . is not suitable for the 21st century.”

But President Obama’s defense budget request for 2017 includes language that makes it clear that nuclear “modernization” really is about Russia after all.

The budget request explicitly cites Russian aggression, saying, “We are countering Russia’s aggressive policies through investments in a broad range of capabilities . . . [including] our nuclear arsenal.”

In December, Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, testified before Congress: “We are investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia’s provocations . . . to both deter nuclear attacks and reassure our allies.”

The public acknowledgement that Russia is the impetus for US modernization has critics concerned the Cold War-era superpowers are now engaged in a “modernization” arms race.

“Both Russia and the United States are now officially and publicly using the other side as a justification for nuclear weapons modernization programs,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

Early in his presidency, Obama was an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. In April 2009, he pledged his commitment “to achieving a nuclear free world,” together with former Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. Later that month, Obama delivered a celebrated speech in Prague, saying he sought “the security of a world without nuclear weapons.” And he negotiated a 2011 nuclear treaty with Russia, which required both countries to reduce their arsenals to 1,550 operational warheads each.

But according to Obama’s advisers, Russia’s invasion of Crimea halted his disarmament efforts. In a 2014 interview with the New York Times, Gary Samore, one of Obama’s top first-term nuclear advisers, said, “The most fundamental game changer is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible.”

Former officials have proposed ways of trimming the trillion-dollar budget. In December, former Defense Secretary William Perry called for the Pentagon not to replace its aging ICBMS, arguing that submarines and bombers were enough to deter nuclear threats.

Retired Gen. Eugene Habiger, the former head of US Strategic Command, which overseas the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons, has argued that US nuclear forces have little to no deterrent effect on Russia and China, and that the US can safely reduce its active arsenal to 200-300 weapons.

Last year, in an effort to cut the costs of nuclear modernization, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced a bill that would reduce the number of planned missile-bearing submarines from 14 to eight. The bill, which would save an estimated $4 billion per submarine, was co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat who is now running for president.

When asked about nuclear modernization at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, Hillary Clinton responded, “Yeah, I’ve heard about that, I’m going to look into that, it doesn’t make sense to me.” Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, on the other hand, supported the expense, saying, “Deterrence is a friend to peace.”

Religious groups have also voiced opposition to nuclear modernization. “We were pleased with the president’s statement calling for a world without nuclear weapons,” said Mark Harrison, director of the Peace with Justice program at the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

David Culp, a legislative representative at the Quaker-affiliated Friends Committee on National Legislation, said, “The increased spending on US nuclear weapons is already provoking similar responses from Russia and China. We are slowly slipping back into another Cold War, but this time on two fronts.”

Contracts are already being signed. In October, the Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman the contract for the new long-range bomber. The total cost is secret, but expected to exceed $100 billion.

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