Nuclear Nonsense: Trump, Putin Both Seek More Nukes
December 23, 2016
Jason Ditz / Antiwar.com & The Washington Post
The two largest nuclear powers on the planet, the United States and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to effectively end human civilization. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump both agree that's not nearly enough. US President-elect Donald Trump has called for the country to expand its nuclear weapons capabilities until the world "comes to its senses." It was not clear what prompted his comment.
Trump Vows to Keep Getting Nukes
Until World 'Comes to Its Senses'
Jason Ditz / Antiwar.com
(December 22, 2016) -- The two largest nuclear powers on the planet, the United States and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to effectively end human civilization. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump both agree that's not nearly enough.
Putin presented the effort as a need to adapt to changes in the world, and to ensure that Russia retains the ability to "neutralize threats" and can reliably penetrate future missile defense systems with their massive nuclear arsenal.
Trump's comments were a lot less specific, saying that the US needs to "greatly strengthen and expand" their nuclear weapons capability, adding that he'd just keep expanding the American arsenal "until the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
The New START Treaty intends to limit the number of nuclear weapons both the US and Russia are deploying at any given time, and with both Russia and the US are currently on track to meet the goals of that treaty, it doesn't seem to be the general trend in the future.
Estimates on the cost of the US "modernization" scheme for its nuclear arsenal are that it will be in excess of $1 trillion. These figures have steadily risen in recent years, and doesn't factor in the "expansion" of arsenal Trump is talking about on top of the modernization.
US hawks have argued that the massive arsenal they already have been sitting on for decades is old and therefore some of the bombs might not work, though given the nature of a full-scale nuclear war and arsenals capable of wiping out the species several times over, being down to 80% or 90% of the warheads detonating doesn't realistically change the result.
Still, both nations virtually bankrupted themselves during the Cold War building these huge caches of weapons, and the massive amount of money being thrown around on such projects is the sort of thing officials salivate about, meaning practical needs ends up beside the point.
Donald Trump Wants to 'Greatly Strengthen and Expand'
US Nuclear Capability, A Radical Break from US Foreign Policy
The Washington Post
(December 23, 2016) -- US President-elect Donald Trump has called for the country to expand its nuclear weapons capabilities until the world "comes to its senses" -- a signal he may support costly efforts to modernise the aging US nuclear arsenal.
It was not clear what prompted his comment.
However, earlier on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia needed to "strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces."
Asked about the tweet, a spokesman said later Trump was "referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it -- particularly to and among terrorist organisations and unstable and rogue regimes."
Trump also has "emphasised the need to improve and modernise our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength," spokesman Jason Miller said.
During the next decade, US ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles -- the three legs of the nuclear triad -- are expected to reach the end of their useful lives. Maintaining and modernising the arsenal is expected to cost at about US$1 trillion dollars over 30 years, according to independent estimates.
Putin, who has said that Trump has confirmed to him he is willing to mend ties between the two countries, spoke on Thursday of the need to enhance the country's nuclear arsenal.
"We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems," he said in a speech in Moscow.
Trump's suggestion would reverse a long-standing policy under both Republican and Democratic presidents to reduce the number and the role of nuclear weapons, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. Russia and before it, the Soviet Union, hold a similar policy.
Since President George HW Bush's administration, it has been US policy not to build new nuclear warheads. Under President Barack Obama, the policy has been not to pursue warheads with new military capabilities.
"If Donald Trump is concerned about the rising costs of the F-35, he will be shocked by the skyrocketing costs of the current plan to modernising the US nuclear arsenal," Kimball said. "Trump and his people need to explain the basis of his cryptic tweet. What does he mean by expand, and at what cost?"
Trump, who won election on November 8 and takes office on January 20, campaigned on a platform of building up the US military, but also pledged to cut taxes and control federal spending.
Trump met on Wednesday with a dozen Pentagon officials involved with defense acquisition programs, as well as the chief executives of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, the country's two largest defence contractors.
Trump said he talked with the CEOs about lowering costs for two high-profile programmes: Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets and Boeing's replacement 744-8s for the presidential Air Force One plane.
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