Arguing that the U.S.-based ballistic missile interceptor system is “very expensive” but has “limited effectiveness” against potential attacks from Iran, a September report by the independent National Research Council recommends replacing the current system with a revamped but largely similar system and expanding it by adding a new site in an East Coast state.
As the possibility of automatic cuts looms over the ongoing debate on reducing U.S. defense spending, the former head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) has called for cutting the nuclear weapons budget by roughly $120 billion over the next two decades.
If the Congress and the White House are serious about reducing the booming federal deficit, they must work together to scale back previous schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems and unnecessary spending on a ground-based missile defense system that doesn't work for a threat that doesn't exist.
In “Resolving the Ambiguity of Nuclear Weapons Costs” (June 2012), Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn estimate that the United States spends $31 billion on nuclear weapons and another $25 billion on related programs in the departments of Energy and Defense. The threats the United States faces today simply do not justify spending at these levels.
Volume 3, Issue 8, May 16, 2012
This week, the House of Representatives will debate and vote on the annual defense authorization bill, which in its current form would hold up implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless Congress increases spending on nuclear weapons activities that the Pentagon did not request and does not want.
Volume 3, Issue 7, May 8, 2012
Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to approve its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill. Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and strategic forces chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are expected to add $3.7 billion more than the Defense Department requested. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the military does not want and the nation cannot afford.
Oliver Meier is a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and international representative of the Arms Control Association. Paul Ingram is executive director of the British American Security Information Council. The authors would like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for its support, which made research for this article possible.
Volume 3, Issue 6, April 20, 2012
In the next few weeks, the Republican leadership on the House Armed Services Committee is expected to try to block implementation of the New START Treaty unless the Obama administration agrees to further increase spending on the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. This type of partisan "hostage taking" threatens to undermine U.S. national security, ignores budget reality, and defies common sense.
Volume 3, Issue 4, March 19, 2012
In recent weeks, a handful of Congressional Republicans have charged that the Obama administration and the Defense Department are failing to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and weapons production complex "as promised" in 2010 during consideration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).