Trim the Arsenal, Trim the Deficit

On the radar: New guidance, lower costs; Bilateral talks, enhanced deal; N. Korea missile development; the Climate with Moscow; Experts outline foreign policy priorities; a Chinese triad; Problems with UPF; and Tracking the nuclear age through comics.

November 13th, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Marianne Nari Fisher

Nuclear budget cut - “One way President Obama could help reduce the deficit is to trim funds planned for the next 10 years for building, maintaining and operating the U.S. nuclear weapons program. That could save up to $100 billion over that period,” writes Walter Pincus.

--“Cold War thinking is the only justification” for the United States having more than 500 nuclear weapons. By reducing the number of nuclear weapons, the U.S. could reduce the nuclear triad to a duo and cut the cost of modernization, Pincus argues.

--”Obama is free to drop the requirements for nuclear targeting, and he should. The United States needs only numbers that maintain nuclear deterrence. His presidential guidance is due shortly. This year, it not only could deter nuclear war, it could help keep us from going over the fiscal cliff.” Full piece at The Washington Post.

Tweet - @ReThink_Media: Robert McNamara said 500 US nukes enough to keep be safe. Decades after Cold War, we're 4613 above that level #nuclear

”More for more” - “With the US elections now over, the US administration is looking for a solid bilateral channel that will augment multilateral talks and enable the two sides to bargain without five other parties in the room,” writes Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor.

--The US is considering a “more for more” offer, including “more verifiable nuclear curbs from Iran in exchange for greater US concessions, including some sanctions relief,” writes Slavin. “The key question is whether Iran is now ready.”

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DPRK missile progress - North Korea is constructing a bigger rocket launch tower and recently conducted several tests of large rocket motors according to analysis from the 38 North.

--“It remains unclear whether the North is preparing another rocket launch but [analysts] predicted [North Korea] may embark on new rocket and nuclear tests in the first half of 2013.” Yahoo News has the story.

Relations with Russia - Persistent tensions with Moscow and a deeply divided Congress could limit maneuvering room for President Obama as he seeks Russia cooperation on nuclear reductions, missile defense, and Iran. Desmond Butler at AP has the analysis.

Quote - "American presidents — whether they like it or not — cannot possibly give up this missile defense system. It's like a religion in America," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, to AP.

Foreign policy priorities - A new letter to President Obama from over 180 foreign policy experts outlines urges the president to accelerate efforts to reduce the nuclear threat, promote human rights, address climate change, and strengthen development policy. Selection of nuclear recommendations: enhance protections against nuclear terrorism, pursue a deal with Iran, and reduce role and salience of nuclear weapons by eliminating outdated Cold War targeting plans.

--Signers include: Gen. James Cartwright, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Amb. Thomas Graham, Amb. Nancy Soderberg, Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Barry Blechman, Joe Cirincione, Daryl Kimball, Jim Walsh and many more.

Chinese triad - "China is now on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and air-dropped nuclear bombs,” according to the latest report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Report to be delivered to Congress tomorrow. AFP has a preview.

Letter of disapproval - The NNSA’s newly proposed Uranium Processing Facility, projected to cost $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion, has prompted a strong response from dozens of activist groups. More than 60 representatives from these groups have expressed their concerns through a joint letter to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

--"The UPF is being designed with a production capacity of 80 warhead secondaries per year to accommodate future production of increased numbers of warhead secondaries rather than being sized to meet the mission requirements of a down-sizing stockpile," says the letter. Knox News with the story.

Crazy fast - After only six months of operation, NNSA's Sequoia supercomputer has lost the title of “fastest in the world” to Cray's Titan supercomputer, currently housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Gizmodo with the details.

Tweet - @wellerstein: Got my 2013 Nuclear Testing Calendar. Looks nice next to the dosimeters and Uranium Rush, no?

Book - Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World was released earlier this year, and tracks “the nuclear age through the comic books that made it comprehensible to the masses.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has the full review.