Navy Pushes Budget Gimmick to Save it from Nuclear Sub Costs

Looking for free money - “Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have taken first steps in establishing a ‘National Sea-based Deterrence Fund.’ The ultimate purpose of such a fund is to take the replacement of the Ohio class submarine program (called SSBN(X) and currently estimated at $4.9 billion each) out of the Navy’s budget and, apparently, make it a ‘national asset’ paid for out of some generic pot of Pentagon funds.” As Ryan Alexander writes in U.S. News & World Report, “From a budgeting standpoint, this makes no sense. It isn’t reducing the cost of the submarine. It doesn’t lower the top line of Pentagon spending.”

--“I hope the Appropriations Committees (the committees that can actually write checks against the Treasury) reject this gimmick again. This is really just Congress’ weak attempt to sidestep the cold truth that it no longer works for each of the military departments (Army, Navy/Marine Corps, Air Force) to receive roughly one-third of the ‘total obligational authority’ for the development and purchase of weapons. No one wants to admit this old formula never made sense, except to placate bureaucratic infighting.”

--“And don’t for a second think the Army and the Air Force aren’t paying close attention to this attempt at budgetary sleight of hand. Because if submarines are ‘national assets,’ what are land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles? What are long range bombers? The last time I checked, it wasn’t the U.S. Army at war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past dozen years; it was the U.S. government. Doesn’t that mean Army weapons are actually ‘national assets?’ Where does this ridiculous dodge end?” Read her full column here.

Tweet - @TomCollina: Can the US cut its #nukes? Watch today's GWU debate live at Free tickets at:

More immediate concerns - “The U.S. Navy’s fleet of nuclear submarines is experiencing ‘significant’ maintenance delays as a result of ongoing mandatory sequestration cuts to the Navy’s maintenance budget, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said on Wednesday. The workload for the public shipyards mounted as the size of the nuclear aircraft carrier fleet increased and as the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines began their refueling overhauls in 2001. Hilarides said that the uptick in work coincided with a hiring freeze as a result of sequestration.” Full story by Dave Majumdar in USNI News.

Tweet - @dylanotes: IAEA: Iran is meeting its commitments under the temporary deal. Read that again if you didn't quite get it.

High expectations - A perfect deal would be difficult to achieve by the self-imposed November 24th deadline for negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, writes Dina Esfandri in The National Interest. After all, the whole point of negotiations is to reach a compromise that is acceptable to all parties. “By definition, a successful agreement will be one where neither side feels it has achieved a perfect deal. But if the P5+1 and Iran reach a comprehensive deal, it will constrain Iran’s nuclear program, boost Rouhani’s liberalism in Iran and pave the way for a new era where the West can more comfortably coordinate with Iran on regional crises. Everyone will be better off.” Read the full column here.

Lessons learned - “Among the arguments marshaled by those wary of a nuclear agreement with Iran is that past efforts to negotiate away North Korea’s nuclear weapons program failed,” writes Barbara Slavin in a new column for Voice of America. “Iran’s regime, they argue, is just as untrustworthy as North Korea’s and what’s more, Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator with Iran, was also involved in talks with the North Koreans under the Bill Clinton administration and thus is somehow inherently suspect.”

--“The critics sidestep massive differences between a small hereditary dictatorship that has already conducted nuclear tests and a large oil-rich country that has repeatedly stated that it will never develop nuclear weapons. Also, Sherman, who became involved with North Korea in Clinton’s second term, had nothing to do with negotiating a landmark nuclear agreement that was signed 20 years ago this week.”

--“At this juncture, it is not yet clear whether negotiators will be able to clinch an agreement with Iran by a Nov. 24 deadline. Technical teams are meeting in Vienna to try to resolve differences over the numbers and capacity of centrifuges, stockpiles of low enriched uranium and schedule for sanctions relief. If the negotiators are successful, however, an Iran deal should be judged the way the Agreed Framework was 20 years ago. As Robert Galluci, the head U.S. negotiator at the time said, ‘Are we better off with it or without it?’” Read the full column here.

Almost there - Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are in the final stretch with little over a months before the November 24 deadline for reaching a deal, said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham during a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday. “Given the fact that negotiations have been underway since a year ago, we can say that we have paved over 90% of the path and we are now taking the last steps which are of course important, sensitive and hard.”

--“Asked about the Russian officials’ remarks that 95% of work has been done for reaching a final agreement between the two sides, she said, ‘95% or 98% progress are the assessments that politicians state in their remarks and views; yet one can say that an important section of the path has been paved and the remaining part is difficult.’ Afkham stressed that all parties are now focused on using the remaining 40 days to reach a deal, and added, ‘Extension of the negotiations is on no one’s agenda.’”

Don’t mix and match - “Discussions with Iran about fighting Islamic State mustn't seep into the nuclear talks with Iran, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday. ‘You must not establish confusion between this question and the question of nuclear weapons that we are discussing now with the Iranians,’ Mr. Fabius said at the Council on Foreign Relations, answering a question about the role of Iran in fighting Islamic State.” Read the full story from Laurence Norman in The Wall Street Journal.

Gottemoeller calls on young - Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller is spending much of this week on a publicity tour of Utah universities. As Mitch Shaw reports for Ogden, Utah’s Standard Examiner, “Even though the nuclear age might just be a history lesson to them, Gottemoeller says young people are key to a future world where nuclear weapons explosions don’t exist.” Read the full story here.

Quick Hits:

--“Addressing a Budget Blind Spot,” by Kathy Crandall Robinson for Womens Action for New Directions.

--“U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy in the 21st Century,” remarks by Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, October 21.

--“Kerry says no deal made with North Korea in release of American,” via Reuters.

--“Boeing books first sales to Iran since 1979,” reports Alwyn Scott for Reuters.

--”Admiral: Ohio-Class Replacement Program Has 'Ingredients For Failure',” from InsideDefense, available to registered users.


--"Iran And The Arab World After The Nuclear Deadline: Possible Scenarios,” featuring Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Syracuse University, Abbas Kadhim, SAIS, and Geneive Abdo, Stimson Center. Oct. 23, 9:30-11:00am., The Stimson Center, 1111 19th Street, NW, 12th Floor, Washington DC, 20036.

--"After the Scottish Referendum: What are the Future Transatlantic Security Implications?," featuring Des Browne, former U.K. Defense Secretary, and Franklin Miller, Scowcroft Group. Oct. 23, 10:00-11:30 a.m., Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington. Register online.

--"Current and Future Challenges for Nuclear Security, Nonproliferation and Verification," featuring Rose Gottemoeller, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Oct. 23, 12:45-1:45 p.m., MIT 24-213, MIT, Cambridge, MA. Details here.

--"Future Prospects for U.S.-Russian Arms Control," featuring Rose Gottemoeller, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Oct. 23, 2:00-3:30 p.m., 54-100, Green Building, MIT, Cambridge, MA. Details here.

--“EU-Coordinated P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations with Iran,” featuring Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Sponsored by Syracuse University and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Oct. 23, 5:00 p.m., at Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington. RSVP online.

--“Debate: Should the United States Cut its Nuclear Arsenal?” Featuring Adam Mount, Council on Foreign Relations; Tom Collina, Ploughshares Fund; Matthew Kroenig, Georgetown University; and Thomas Moore, Wilson Center. Oct. 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m., George Washington University, Room B17, 1957 E St. NW, Washington. RSVP online. Can’t make it? Watch it live at

--"Preventing Nuclear Terrorism Globally: Results and Remaining Challenges," featuring Deepti Choubey. Oct. 29, 9:00 -11:00 a.m. at the Foreign Policy Institute,1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Room 500, Washington. Register online.

--"US-Iranian Religious Leaders’ Dialogue: The Relevance of Moral Questions Related to Nuclear Weapons." Featuring John Steinbruner of the University of Maryland; Richard Pates from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Stephen Colecchi from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Wednesday October 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sponsored by Arms Control Association. located at the Carnegie Endowment, Choate Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC. RSVP online.

--”A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities,” featuring David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security and George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Thursday, October 30 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at AEI located on the 12th floor of 1150 17th Street, Washington, DC, 20036. Register online

--"Challenges in Nuclear Verification: The IAEA’s Role on the Iranian Nuclear Issue," Featuring Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA. Friday October 31 from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00p.m. Located at the Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington. RSVP online.