Nuclear Budgets Racing Ahead of Policy
Today's top nuclear policy stories, with excerpts in bullet form.
Stories we're following today: Friday, August 12, 2011.
The Budget Crisis Offers Opportunity to Bend the Arc of Nuclear Policy - Joe Cirincione in Think Progress [link]
- Despite the deep fiscal crisis, [nuclear weapons and related programs] budgets are about to go up — to a whopping $700 billion over the next 10 years … the procurement of new weapons is racing ahead of the policy to shrink the arsenal … Budgets are dictating strategy.
- This procurement-policy gap … keeps alive weapons designed for last century’s conflict by draining funds from military programs needed for today’s challenges. Twenty-first century threats will not be solved by 1950s thinking.
- [But] the budget crunch is shifting the nuclear policy ground … [and] has opened a new window, a new lever to achieve the president’s original goals. He has one more chance to bend the arc of nuclear policy. If he misses it, he may not get another.
New Iran Sanctions Could Bring Unintended Blowback - Barbara Slavin in Inter Press Service [link]
- A new Congressional push to sanction Iran's Central Bank is aimed at reducing Iranian oil revenues, but could backfire and hurt the global economy.
- Experts on the Iranian economy told IPS that the intent was not to cut Iranian oil sales ... but to worsen the terms of trade with Tehran by giving more leverage to customers such as China, India and Turkey to strike hard bargains for Iranian crude.
- Sanctioning the Central Bank would punish ordinary Iranians, something the Obama administration has said it wants to avoid, and could undermine what had been a growing international consensus against the Iranian nuclear programme. It could also jack up oil prices at a time when the global economy is teetering on the verge of a second recession.
Think Before You Cut - P.W. Singer in Foreign Policy [link]
- How America's national security leaders approach the [defense cuts] debate … [will] determine whether the United States remains capable of sustaining its global commitments in the coming decades … It is time to admit that there are some areas where the emperor has no clothes and we must therefore question further spending on his wardrobe.
- For example, the United States has spent more money on ballistic missile defense (over $150 billion) than the entire Apollo space program, which took a man to the moon … And yet, Congress is still planning an increase to the annual ballistic-missile defense budget, raising it to $8.6 billion.
- … perhaps the best example of the need to re-examine assumptions is the massive sums still devoted to the nuclear weapons complex … Whether it is shaving off 275 or 550 or more warheads … the result would be not a strategic loss but a strategic gain, as costs cut from there could be used to protect other parts of the defense budget.
Tea Party Activists - Bring On Defense Cuts - Cristina Marcos in The Hill [link]
- Tea Party activists say the Pentagon should be targeted for cuts by the “supercommittee” created in the debt-ceiling deal … [and] say defense programs should come under the same knife as any other taxpayer-funded programs.
- Democrats had hoped the triggers might convince Republicans on the supercommittee to agree to tax hikes to avoid defense cuts, but Tea Party groups appear to be much more relaxed about the Pentagon cuts than tax increases.
- Activists in the Tea Party movement also warn they will take note of any lawmakers in either party who object to spending cuts.
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