Misplaced Priorities: $31 Billion Per Year on Strategic Nuclear Forces
On the radar: Misplaced priorities; What nuclear weapons cost; Thinking through the military option; No Parchin agreement; Mousavian Memoir; The nuclear weapons lobby; CMRR’s uncertain fate; Nuclear security in Jordan; and UFO or ICBM?
June 11, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke
The Cold War is getting expensive - The House defense authorization bill contains provisions that would prevent reductions of U.S. nuclear weapons and spend billions on unnecessary programs to overhaul them. This prompted The New York Times’ editorial board to ask, “Did House Republicans somehow miss the end of the cold war?”
--To meet U.S. strategic and fiscal responsibilities, the Times argues that President Obama should leverage recent support for deep nuclear cuts and push back against those in Congress who haven’t given up their “cold war obsessions.” http://nyti.ms/LUJAQK
Nuclear weapons budget report - The U.S. spends $31 billion per year to operate and maintain its strategic nuclear offensive forces, estimate Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn of the Stimson Center in a new report. The report clarifies that official government estimates of the nuclear budget “understate the actual costs the United States spends on nuclear weapons.”
--Given projected costs for modernizing the arsenal, the authors estimate that the U.S. will spend between $352 and $392 billion on strategic nuclear offensive forces over the next 10 years. Full report here. http://bit.ly/Li6WyU
The troubled military option - Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is an urgent priority, but rushing into a preventive war with Iran would only make things worse. Colin Kahl, Matthew Irvine and Melissa Dalton in Foreign Policy argue that the destabilizing consequences of a military strike - especially a unilateral one by Israel - would be high, while any potential benefits would be uncertain.
--The authors argue that “All options, including preventive military action, should remain on the table. But force should be seen as a last resort; it should be contemplated only by the United States, and it should be employed only under stringent conditions.” In the meantime, the focus should be on finding a diplomatic solution that prevents Iran from developing actual nuclear weapons. http://bit.ly/KZOuOY
--Get the full report. “Risk and Rivalry: Iran, Israel and the Bomb” from the Center for a New American Security. http://bit.ly/KLKTWs
Parchin - The IAEA and Iran failed to reach agreement on a framework that would allow agency inspectors access to Iran’s Parchin military complex. “We're disappointed,” said Robert Wood, U.S. envoy to the IAEA. Reuters has the story. http://reut.rs/LDDJ5T
Beyond the numbers - The new Stimson report may clarify the numbers, but the budget debate remains messy. House Republicans appear all too happy to use nuclear budget numbers as an excuse to defund implementation of New START, argues Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk after reviewing the new Stimson report.
--“A House-led effort to suspend implementation of the New START treaty is now a foregone conclusion, no matter what Barack Obama does or does not do,” writes Lewis. http://bit.ly/KvXu9W
Out this week - “The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir” by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former spokesman for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team.
--Order your copy from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. http://bit.ly/MC1NVQ
Report - “Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby” by Bill Hartung at the Center for International Policy.
--“This report provides a profile of the nuclear weapons lobby, noting along the way that in a constrained budgetary environment different parts of the lobby may either collaborate to promote higher nuclear weapons spending or compete for their share of a shrinking pie.” Full report here (pdf). http://bit.ly/KLWLI6
CMRR - The House appropriations bill did not include funds for the proposed $6 billion plutonium lab at Los Alamos - the CMRR. This is in line with the President’s request to defer the program for 5 years, but conflicts with the House defense authorization bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of its defense bill.
--It is unclear who will prevail in the fight for the fate of CMRR: appropriators who want it cut or authorizers struggling to keep the proposal alive. Elaine Grossman at Global Security Newswire has the story. http://bit.ly/Llbwzz
Border security - The U.S. has donated 35 personal radiation detectors to Jordan, in an effort to boost the country’s security amid concerns over instability in neighboring Syria. AP has the story. http://wapo.st/LlblUV
ICYMI - “Moving the Prague Agenda Forward” remarks by Acting Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller at the Arms Control Association Annual Meeting. http://1.usa.gov/NsPs7W
Get the latest