Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The New Nuclear Arms Race

Apparently the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union was not the end of the nuclear arms race.

Today the Washington Post has an editorial written by Walter Pincus that is essentially criticizing AZ Senator Jon Kyl’s demands for “nuclear weapons modernization.”

I am going to include excerpts from the Washington Post editorial with some of my previous commentary about the nuclear arms race.

In the fall of 2011 Counterpunch criticized the Obama Administration plan to “modernize” nuclear weapons by building MORE of them. Below find an excerpt from that Counterpunch article.

You will see in the Washington Post editorial some hard numbers on the costs of these weapons of death and destruction. The New York Times in the fall of 2011 decried increased spending on these weapons that can never be used.

Truly, humanity is a suicidal species. 
Nuclear weapons modernization: not fast enough for Kyl

[excerpt] "...there is $565 million in the Navy’s 2013 research and development budget for the program, on top of $2 billion already spent. Another $1 billion is in the 2013 budget for the sub’s nuclear…

The Air Force’s 2013 budget has $292 million for what is now called the Long-Range Strike-B (LRS-B) program, a stealth bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons that could be flown by remote control....The initial aircraft will be for use with conventional weapons, although they will be structured to carry nuclear weapons in later versions.

Today the United States has about 1,800 warheads deployed and available for delivery on 450 land-based Minuteman III ICBMs, 14 ballistic missile submarines and 60 strategic bombers. The number of warheads will drop to 1,550 by 2018 under START.

Counterpunch Fall 2011 (available only to subscribers) described Obama's unprecedented (post WW II) escalation of nuclear weapons spending: Succeeding Where Bush Failed: The Obama Administration's Nuclear Weapon Surge. Counterpunch. By Darwin Bond-Graham

[excerpted] "Obama's first term will go down in history, however, as containing one of the single largest spending increases on nuclear weapons ever. His administration has worked vigorously to commit the nation to a multi-hundred-billion-dollar reinvestment in nuclear weapons, mapped out over the next three-plus decades.At the center of Obama's ambitious nuclear agenda is the expansion of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex via a multibillion-dollar construction program.

...Also, at the center of Obama's nuclear agenda is a commitment of tens of billions of dollars to designing and building the next generation of nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. Stockpiled nuclear warheads will receive billions more in refurbishment and new components. All of this is now underway. Completion dates for various pieces of this puzzle span the next half-century. Finally, Obama's nuclear policies have been designed to leave the door open to new weapons at some future date..."

And, finally, we see that even the bellicose New York Times has reservations about this new nuclear arms race.

Monday, October 31, 2011 Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget and Arsenal The New York Times:

"Twenty years after the end of the cold war, the United States still has about 2,500 nuclear weapons deployed and 2,600 more as backup. The Obama administration, in an attempt to mollify Congressional Republicans, has also committed to modernizing an already hugely expensive complex of nuclear labs and production facilities.   

Altogether, these and other nuclear-related programs could cost $600 billion or more over the next decade. The country does not need to maintain this large an arsenal. It should not be spending so much to do it, especially when Congress is considering deep cuts in vital domestic programs...

"Washington and Moscow pledged in the 2010 New Start treaty to reduce their number of deployed long-range nuclear weapons to 1,550 from 2,200 by 2017. But unless something changes, both countries will increase nuclear spending in coming years, as they replace or upgrade aging nuclear production facilities and delivery vehicles — submarines, missiles and bombers. That makes no sense..."

Nuclear war can never be waged without wrecking genocide on innocents. Is this new arms race a perverted form of military Keynesianism? Is it about ensuring access to limited resources in an ever depleted earth? 

Although I do not know the motivations that have produced this renewed race, I do know that building nuclear arms (and nuclear energy) is a sure path toward extinction.

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