New Report: Ghosts of the Cold War

Rethinking the Need for a New Nuclear Cruise Missile

The era when two global superpowers fought for world domination is long over – but the nuclear weapons continue to haunt us. The United States has more than 1,500 nuclear warheads deployed on a “triad” of submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles. 

These doomsday weapons – the ghosts of the Cold War – were built to fight an enemy that no longer exists. Nonetheless, President Obama has approved plans to rebuild and maintain them all, with a price tag of about $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

One of them is a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile that will cost about $30 billion in taxpayer dollars – yet does nothing to protect us from 21st century threats like terrorism, cyber attacks and global warming.

A Ploughshares Fund report released today, written by my colleague, Roger L. Hale Fellow Will Saetren, calls on President Obama to cancel the new nuclear cruise missile, also known as the Long Range Stand-Off weapon or LRSO. It argues that the new missile is strategically unnecessary, extraordinarily expensive, and undermines US security.

Stop the new nuclear cruise missile

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In a foreword to the new report, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) writes: “Senior US defense officials have begun to tout this weapon as having a role ‘beyond deterrence.’ This talk of a limited nuclear war will only spur our adversaries to develop similarly advanced capabilities.” And on Sunday, the New York Times ran a front-page story warning that new nuclear weapons, such as the nuclear cruise missile, “threaten to revive a Cold War-era arms race.”

Ploughshares Fund, its grantees and its valued supporters have made significant progress toward reducing nuclear threats during the Obama years, from our work promoting the New START treaty with Russia, to our campaign for the international accord that stopped Iran from building a bomb without starting another war in the Middle East. But enormous risks remain. Doing all we can to prevent a new arms race with Russia, China and other nuclear-armed countries is critical. Cancelling the new nuclear cruise missile would be a vital first step toward that goal.

New Report: Ghosts of the Cold War - April 20, 2016 (pdf)