Quotable

"We could, in a moment in time, destroy everything—ourselves and all that we had every touched or loved—by means of our own technology and by our own hand." -Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Nukes for FY2012

Friends,

Abolitionists beware!  It would be easy to go through an entire bottle of ibuprofen (not in one sitting of course) while attempting to make any sense of all the analysis of the U.S. Fiscal Year 2012 Budget!  As for the "defense" budget the great shell game continues.  It gives peacemakers a tremendous headache.

As for issues of a nuclear nature, actions speak even louder than numbers.  While it is easy to get sidetracked by the figures (and I don't mean to discount the costs; they ARE important), it is crystal clear from the projects currently in the works and those on the planning table that the U.S. Government's focus is  much like a horse with blinders - Can you say "DETERRENCE?"

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists has summarized The Nuclear Weapons Modernization Budget in the FAS Strategic Security Blog (Feb 17, 2011).  Between "maintenance and modernization" the government is ensuring that the nuclear weapons development, construction, maintenance deployment and delivery infrastructure is thoroughly protected from the budgetary axe.  If spending is the true indicator of intention, then President Obama's disarmament rhetoric rings hollow.

Nuclear weapons, based on FY2012 budget request, continue to stand at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy, and if the government's current plans are realized the prospects for global nuclear disarmament before the year 2100 - should we not commit nuclear omnicide before then - look grim.

From missiles to bombs, "the budget includes significant investments in maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons in the stockpile through the life-extension programs (LEPs)."   But that's not all folks!  The Obama administration will make sure that the "missiles, submarines and bombers designed to deliver the warheads" are also "modernized."

But wait!  We are talking about way more than mere modernization here.  As Kristensen states, the Minuteman III ICBM is analogous to the Six Million Dollar Man (but way more expensive) and "is essentially a new missile."  The Air Force's heavy bombers and fighter-bombers will be upgraded, and in the case of the B-52 "will provide for further nuclear weapons in both bay and under wings."  Great - More nuclear weapons!!!

 The biggest and scariest news of all is the intention (and research has been underway for some time now) to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN(X).  Although Kristensen covers this only briefly, it is a huge issue as Trident is the nations premier first strike weapon, and according to estimates would be in service through 2082!

And finally, the infrastructure that has developed, built and maintained the nations nuclear weapons continues to receive more than adequate funding to continue rebuilding itself.  Construction at Los Alamos and Y-12 in Tennessee are well under way and well over budget, and the Kansas City Plant (not mentioned by Kristensen) is on a roll.

As for the "Implications and Outlook" of the current nuclear weapons budget, here's what Kristensen has to say:
With massive investments in widespread modernization of nuclear forces and industry, the FY2012 budget shows that the Obama administration is following through on its promise to make significant investments in modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
The “generational” modernizations proposed in the budget represent a commitment to extending the nuclear era as long into the future as it has lasted so far. A challenge will be whether nuclear modernization will overshadow nuclear disarmament in the administration’s public nuclear image.
Following on the heels of the Prague speech and the New START treaty, it remains to be seen whether other nuclear weapon states and the international non-proliferation community will see the nuclear modernization programs as progress toward reducing the role and numbers of nuclear weapons and putting an end to Cold War thinking, or business as usual only at lower numbers.
To what extent the Congress will fund these programs is another unknown. With unprecedented deficit and a new Congress that appears determined to cut government spending, several of the nuclear modernization programs will like come under considerable scrutiny.
It is obvious that the Obama administration is locked into a decades old pattern of thinking linked to a deeply entrenched military-nuclear-industrial complex that perpetuates a potentially deadly reliance on weapons that by their very design indiscriminately kill civilians, and if ever used in even a limited conflict would result in devastating immediate and long-term global effects.  The world cannot afford a continuation of "business as usual" at any numbers!!!


I urge everyone to read Kristensen's summary and analysis, and consider how we can respond. We need to send a clear message to President Obama and Congress that planned modernization efforts are antithetical to the President's stated "goal of a world without nuclear weapons." We need to ask the President just what kind of legacy he wants to leave the world when he leaves office.
Peace,

Leonard