The United States plans to spend approximately $1 trillion on maintaining and replacing its nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, according to a report from independent think-tank the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).
“If current projections hold, the United States will spend 3 percent of its defense budget on procuring new strategic systems during these peak years [sometime after 2020]. This percentage is comparable to spending for procurement of new strategic systems in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan,” the report says.
The report claims that Obama’s administration planned to replace the current nuclear systems more rapidly, but sequestration has slowed it down.
The Congressional Budget Office announced in December that the U.S. will spend $355 billion over the next decade on nuclear weapons, which is consistent with the 30-year projection. CNS suggests that the Office of Management and Budget prepare estimates longer than 10 years.
“The United States government does not know with any accuracy how much it spends annually on its nuclear deterrent, or how much it will cost to replace the current [nuclear] triad,” the report says.
The nuclear triad consists of strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
The federal budget projection says it will invest $100-140 billion in bombers, $20-120 billion on ICBMs, and about $350 billion to fund the National Nuclear Security Administration for maintaining current and building more modern nuclear weapons.
“These estimates make no allowance for additional cost overruns or delays, although defense and energy programs routinely cost significantly more than initial estimates,” the report says.
Things like environmental cleanup, military pensions, the dismantling of retired systems, long-term health aren’t listed within the budget.
“It is unclear how long the nation’s nuclear weapon program can defy budgetary gravity,” the report says. “The authors propose that the Office of Management and Budget oversee preparation of a year-by-year estimate of the full life cycle costs of each major strategic system currently in the arsenal, as well as those under consideration to replace current systems.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Says Israel Should Sign Treaty to Disarm Themselves of Nuclear Weapons
Iran and Israel have had a long history of animosity towards one another, with the idea of peaceful interactions between the countries seemingly impossible for a long time. Now, Iran has said they hope that Israel will consider signing a nuclear treaty that will disarm them.
Recently affirmed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week that he urges Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rouhani says that he hopes the entire Middle East will work together in disarming themselves of nuclear weapons and that this will hopefully bring peace to the region.
“As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” said Rouhani. In his speech to the UN General Assembly, he made clear that if the Middle East is to become a nuclear-free zone, then Israel has to sign the treaty because it is the only country in the region that has yet to sign it.
Rouhani also said, in his address, that the use of nuclear weapons by any country is a crime against humanity and that nuclear disarmament has been a long time coming.
“Almost four decades of international efforts to establish nuclear weapon-free zones have regrettably failed," he said. "Urgent, practical steps toward the establishment of such a zone are necessary. The international community has to redouble efforts in support of the establishment of this zone."
Israel has responded to Iran’s message, saying that it believes that the country is not genuine in its campaign to disarm the region and that this is simply a diversion from Iran’s own nuclear program.
“The man is an expert with tricks," said Israeli official Yuval Steinitz. "Instead of saying that Iran will finally comply with the Security Council resolutions, it tries to shift attention to Israel.”
Still, Iran maintains that its intentions are genuine, and that disarmament of the Middle East is an important step.
The United States was one safety gear away from nuking a large part of its East Coast, including North Carolina, New York, and Washington D.C.
This is a fact that the author of Fast Food Nation believes people have forgotten. But with his new book that comes out Tuesday, Eric Schlosser hopes people remember the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons, he says in an interview with Mother Jones, are “machines and I think they are the most dangerous machines ever invented. And like every machine, sometimes they go wrong.”
If things would have gone a little differently back in 1961, Schlosser writes in Control and Command, the U.S. could have destroyed a large part of the East Coast.
A B-52 bomber went out of control over North Carolina and a pair of hydrogen bombs fell out. One bomb nearly exploded when its safety gear failed. The bombs were each 250 times stronger than that bomb dropped on Hiroshima, says Schlosser.
While the Air Force maintains the bomb was never going to actually explode, Schlosser says that’s not true.
“As the decades passed, particularly since the Second World War, we lost the sense of how devastating these weapons can be—and also what it’s like to be in a society that’s been completely destroyed by warfare," he says.
Schlosser hopes people can see that “if we don’t greatly reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, or completely eliminate them, a major city is going to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.”
“It’s remarkable, it’s incredible!” Schlosser says. “That a major city hasn’t been destroyed since Nagasaki.”
Sources: Raw Story, Newser, Mother Jones
After speaking with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during his trip to Asia, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that these past few weeks of North Korean nuclear threats were "unacceptable by any standard" and that the U.S. would never accept the volatile nation becoming a nuclear power.
Kerry also said that the U.S. would defend its allies in the area if it was necessary.
"The rhetoric we are hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable by any standard," Kerry said. "We are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power."
North Korea is preparing for a celebration honoring the birthday of its state founder, Kim Il-sung. Some have speculated that the country will use that occasion for some sort of display of military power which is one of the reasons that Kerry is believed to be in the region, Reuters reported.
Reports have surfaced that North Korea may try to launch a medium-range missile after it recently moved its weapons into suitable locations. The country's leader, Kim Jong-un, would be making a "huge mistake" if he went through with a launch, according to Kerry.
"Kim Jong-un's youth and inexperience make him very vulnerable to miscalculation. Our greatest concern is a miscalculation and where that may lead," said a U.S. official in South Korea speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"We have seen no indications of massive troop movements, or troops massing on the border, or massive exercises or anything like that that would back up any of the rhetoric that is going on."
When asked if a war was imminent, the official said: "Not at all.”
When Fidel Castro is telling you not to use nuclear weapons, then it really isn’t a good idea. If anybody knows anything about usurping power and using nukes to establishing a dictatorship and earn respect via force, Castro and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is a quick case study.
In response to the situation in North Korea, Castro published a brief statement, his first in nine months, urging Kim Jong-Un to avoid using the nuclear weapons he has brazenly been touting.
"Now that you have demonstrated your technical and scientific advances, we remind you of your duty to the countries that have been your great friends, and it would not be fair to forget that such a war would affect ... more than 70% of the planet's population," he said.
"This is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago," he wrote, a reference to what is known in English as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
If Kim Jong Un wanted the attention and respect of world leaders, this response from Castro certainly confirms that he has been successful in garnering both of those. But in America, the response has been a little more casual.
After a series of threats made by North Korea vowing to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific and to invade South Korea, the state-owned KCNA news agency has announced that the volatile nation will restart all nuclear facilities for both electricity and military uses.
The agency reports that the restart, which includes bringing a nuclear reactor that has been dormant since 2007 back online, is being done so that the country will have nuclear weapons to ensure its safety.
This announcement comes as the number of U.S. forces in the region has increased because of the latest round of threats. North Korea is believed to be years away from having nuclear weapons, but it did conduct its third nuclear test in February, according to Reuters.
In a speech on Sunday, North's young leader Kim Jong Un seemed to downplay the chances of a direct conflict with the United States.
"Our nuclear strength is a reliable war deterrent and a guarantee to protect our sovereignty," Kim said. "It is on the basis of a strong nuclear strength that peace and prosperity can exist and so can the happiness of people's lives."
Kim's speech was given to the central committee meeting of the ruling Workers Party of Korea.
Even though Kim is making it sound like he wants nuclear capabilities to enhance his country’s safety - as opposed to having nuclear weapons to attack others - the nuclear restart will probably only increase tensions in the area.
"It's yet another escalation in this ongoing crisis," said Ramesh Thakur, the director of the Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament at Australian National University in Canberra. "It's just a very murky situation. The danger is that we can misread one another and end up with a conflict that no one wants."
Well, it's about time.
The constant posturing of new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since taking over as "supreme leader" has been about as annoying and obvious as a small child making a lot of noise just to get attention.
War is never a good thing, but it is put up or shut up time for Kim. And the White House is betting he has nothing to "put up."
The 30-year-old leader certainly knows how to draw a crowd. Whether it was bringing in former NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for a nearly week-long visit/publicity stunt, or just basically saying a lot of stuff about nuclear weapons and how he is willing to use them, let’s cut the sabre rattling and see him actually do something.
Since taking over, the number one issue he has faced has been people taking him seriously after the death of his father, the both widely feared and lampooned, Kim Jong Il.
His strategy to combat his lack of credibility has been completely transparent; talk a lot of junk, piss off various world leaders with a general lack of couth and, continue the constant bullying of neighbor South Korea.
On Saturday morning, the North's official news agency KCNA published a joint statement issued by the government, political parties and other organizations.
And if the White House isn't taking these threats seriously, than neither should you.
Former Army officer and current defense contractor Benjamin Pierce Bishop has been charged with communicating classified information to a 27-year-old Chinese student he had been having a romantic relationship with. The 59-year-old made his first court appearance on Monday. Bishop, who works for a company based at U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, was arrested on Friday.
Bishop met the woman at a conference in Hawaii involving international military defense issues while she was visiting the United States on a student visa. An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that the unnamed student "may have been at the conference in order to target individuals such as Bishop who work with and have access to U.S. classified information." Bishop has held a top secret security clearance since 2002, reports The Huffington Post.
The two started having a romantic relationship in 2011 and the Justice Department says that Bishop provided classified information to the woman several times. He also tried to hide her identity when he visited her in the U.K., by "by slightly changing her given name to a masculine form of the same name and by adding a letter to the surname," when filling out a travel request form.
According to the government, Bishop provided the woman with information relating to nuclear weapons. He gave her intelligence on how the U.S. detects low- and medium-range ballistic missiles and information on early-warning radar systems. If convicted, he faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison
There is a lot of speculation about what Obama is going to say in this evening’s State of the Union. While much of what the president is rumored to be planning to say will be of little reassurance to those of the libertarian persuasion there is one proposal that Obama might make that I would welcome. According to The Telegraph Obama is expected to call for a drop in the number of nuclear weapons we have.
From The Telegraph:
Although Mr Obama is not expected to give precise numbers in his speech, reports yesterday claimed that the number of warheads could be cut from 1,700 to as low as 1,000, if a mutual agreement can be secured with Russia.
Mr Obama believes that "pretty radical reductions" can be made to the arsenal, a left-over from the Cold War, and US military leaders have "signed off" on the proposed reductions, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous administration officials.
I still think 1,000 nuclear weapons still sounds a little excessive, but some progress is better than none.
Cuts to our nuclear arsenal would accelerate compliance with the NEW START treaty with Russia, which requires the U.S. and Russia reduce the total number of warheads both countries have to 1,550 by 2018.
America’s greatest external threats are not nations that have their own nuclear weapons. Terrorists that are not a part of any military or loyal to any nation are more of a danger to American national security than a nuclear Iran or North Korea. In the unlikely event of a terrorist detonating a nuclear weapon on U.S. soil it is far from obvious what the target of our nuclear response should be. Even were Russia and China threats to our national security 1,000 nuclear weapons are still an effective deterrent. The U.S. is fighting wars that are very different to the wars that were being fought during the Cold War; it is time that we adapted our arsenals accordingly. Cutting back on our nuclear arsenal is especially worth doing now considering the state of the American economy.
Don’t forget to follow me and others from the Reason crew tonight as we live tweet the State of the Union. Reason senior editor Peter Suderman has put together drinking game rules for the occasion especially for those who prefer to experience these sorts of things through the bottom of bottles and shot glasses.