Trump Requests More Money for Nukes
On the radar: U.S. nukes get budget boost; Markey legislation introduced to cut unnecessary nuclear spending; New Ploughshares Fund report on missile defense; Nuclear posturing and modernization go hand in hand; Get our nukes out of Turkey!; B-52 bombers go non-nuclear; Trump blabs submarine locations to Duterte; China prepared to push sanctions on North Korea; Trump’s hostility puts Iran Deal in hot water
Trump’s budget boosts NNSA funding - “The government agency in charge of upkeep and modernization of America’s nuclear warheads is in line for a big funding boost, thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a quasi-independent entity within the Department of Energy, is marked for $13.9 billion, an increase of $1 billion — or 7.8 percent — above the FY17 Omnibus level. The vast majority of that funding will be going towards NNSA’s nuclear weapons programs, which was certainly welcomed by Frank Klotz, the retired U.S. Air Force general who now heads the nuclear agency,” writes Aaron Mehta for Defense One.
--“Stephen Young, a nonproliferation expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists says to not get too excited about the budget increase for weapons programs. ‘The cost increases in U.S. nuclear weapons programs are not a result of any desire by President Trump to enhance the U.S. nuclear arsenal,’ Young said. ‘They simply reflect costs increasing in the weapons programs beyond what the NNSA expected, a completely unsurprising development considering the history of major projects at the agency.’ While the weapons programs are getting a boost, nonproliferation programs are not so lucky, which raised concerns within the nonproliferation community.” Article here.
See also - “Trump wants to cut $120 million for Hanford in budget proposal despite incidents” by Nicholas K. Geranios for The Seattle Times here.
Cutting the bloated nukes budget - “Following release of a Trump administration budget that proposes to increase spending on nuclear weapons by billions of dollars, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced bicameral legislation that would cut $100 billion from the wasteful nuclear weapons budget over the next decade. The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act improves national security and budgetary sanity by cutting redundant and destabilizing nuclear programs,” said Sen. Markey’s office in a press release today.
--“‘As the Trump administration seeks to slash spending on health care and other essential programs, the United States simply cannot afford to spend over $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons, as President Trump plans to do,’ said Tom Z. Collina, Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund. ‘We must prioritize the needs of Main Street USA over defense contractors. The SANE Act lays out a common sense approach to saving hundreds of billions in nuclear spending that will actually enhance US national security.’” Full press release here.
New Ploughshares Fund Report - As President Donald Trump meets for the first time with NATO leaders in Brussels, Ploughshares Fund today released a new report recommending that the United States rethink its strategy to buy new missile interceptors for Europe. Rather than field a new anti-missile system in Poland to counter Iranian intermediate-range missiles that do not exist, the report finds that the United States should put these plans on hold. “The expansion of U.S. anti-missile systems is Europe should be paused,” said report author Dr. Tytti Erästö, the Roger L. Hale Fellow at Ploughshares Fund. “This would pose no risk to NATO security, as there is no nuclear missile threat from Iran to justify the new defenses,” she said.
Modernization, posturing go hand in hand - “All the nuclear-armed States have extensive nuclear modernization programmes underway and appear to plan to retain large nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future. The modernization programmes have one thing in common: to improve the capabilities and effectiveness of nuclear weapons,” writes Hans Kristensen in the UNIDIR report “Understanding Nuclear Weapons Risks”. “There is evidence that nuclear weapons modernization programmes and evolving military strategies are increasingly based on assumptions about a growing reliance on nuclear weapons in limited scenarios below the strategic level. This trend brings with it increased risks that nuclear weapons could become involved in a regional conflict and potentially be used for the first time since 1945.” For his full report, click here.
See also - “Nuclear Weapon Risks Symposium” featuring Hans Kristensen and others for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. here.
Nukes near Syria? No thanks - “When President Donald Trump and other heads of state meet at this week’s NATO Summit it might be a good time to discuss the wisdom of keeping 50 U.S. thermonuclear weapons in Turkey, just 70 miles from Syria, the most intense combat zone on the planet,” writes Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione for Defense One. “They are the vestige of the thousands of battlefield weapons once deployed by the United States and the Soviet Union to wage nuclear war in Europe.”
--“‘The security risk of basing U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe,’ warns former NSC staffer Steve Andreasen and Isabelle Williams, ‘clearly demonstrate the case for consolidating U.S. nuclear weapons in the United States.’ Why risk it? No member of NATO will doubt our resolve or the credibility of our nuclear assurances if we pull 50 dangerously exposed nuclear weapons from Turkey. They may actually breathe a sigh of relief.” Full article here.
Stratofortress loses nuclear role - “The venerate B-52H Stratofortress long-range bomber is no longer listed by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a capability to deliver nuclear gravity bombs,” writes Hans Kristensen for Federation of American Scientists. “The reason for the change appears to be that the B-52 is no longer considered survivable enough to slip through modern air-defenses and drop nuclear gravity bombs on enemy territory.”
--“The B-52 is still equipped to carry the nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile (ALCM or AGM-86B), which can be launched from well outside the reach of air-defenses, and is scheduled to receive the new LRSO (Long Range Standoff Missile) by the late-2020s (even though that’s probably unnecessary). The loss of the B-52 nuclear gravity bomb mission is visible in NNSA’s Budget Request for FY2018, which only lists the B-2 as carrier of the strategic nuclear gravity bombs.” Article here.
Loose lips sink ships - “President Donald Trump repeatedly addressed the possibility of a U.S. nuclear attack on North Korea in a private call last month with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a transcript of the call obtained by The Intercept,” wrote Jeremy Scahill, Alex Emmons and Ryan Grim for The Intercept. “‘We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world — we have two nuclear submarines — not that we want to use them at all,’ Trump said.”
--“Both leaders expressed a preference for avoiding a nuclear confrontation, but nonetheless, Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and a leading expert on nuclear weapons, was alarmed by the exchange. ‘Trump has a disturbing tendency to talk very cavalierly about nuclear weapons — as if he is an impulse away from using them,’ Cirincione said. ‘He doesn’t seem to understand the vast destructive nature of these weapons and the line he would be crossing by using them.’” Full article here.
See also - “Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters: NYT” by Karen Lema for Reuters here.
China ready to enforce DPRK sanctions - “China’s U.N. ambassador Liu Jieyi... said all progress with North Korea on eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula has come through dialogue, ‘so there’s no reason why dialogue is not taking place in the current situation.’ But Liu said China ‘first and foremost’ wants to see the six sanctions resolutions against North Korea already adopted by the council fully implemented,” writes Edith M. Lederer for The Washington Post. “[Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho] said, ‘the international community must not leave this total defiance of the Security Council unanswered.’” For the full article, click here.
See also - “U.N. Security Council weighs new sanctions on North Korea” by Anne Gearan for The Washington Post here.
A clenched fist could end Iran Deal - “Today, as far as U.S.-Iranian relations are concerned, the clenched fist is found in Washington, in the form of the Trump administration’s vehement, relentlessly expressed, and unqualified hostility toward Iran,” writes Paul Pillar for The National Interest. “Whatever political, rhetorical, or visceral purposes this hostility serves, it has major costs.”
--Pillar goes on to list ten costs caused by Trump’s tightly clenched fist. The Iran Deal being among the ten is possibly the costliest because although Iran’s compliance is confirmed the “uncertainty regarding compliance is on the U.S. side. If the laboriously negotiated nuclear agreement were to die because of U.S. noncompliance, the alternative would not be some unicorn-like “better deal”; it instead would be no deal and a return to unrestricted Iranian ability to spin as many centrifuges as it likes and to produce as much fissile material as it likes.” Full article here.
See also - “John Kerry goes on tweetstorm as Senate eyes Iran legislation” by Julia Manchester for The Hill here.
--“Debate: Modernization of Nuclear Missiles” featuring Jon Wolfsthal, Christine Parthemore, (Ret.) General C. Robert Kehler and Heather Williams for CSIS PONI here.
--“The Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe Under Trump” by Rebecca Friedman Lissner for War on the Rocks here.
--“Legislation would limit Trump's nuclear option” by Michael J. Keller for The Baltimore Sun here.
--“The Pukguksong-2 Approaches Initial Operational Capability” by John Schilling for 38North here.
--“Hawaii Is Preparing a New Nuclear Contingency Plan Because of North Korea” by Sarah Emerson for Vice Motherboard here.
--“Hibakusha hail draft of latest move to outlaw nuclear weapons” for The Asahi Shuimbun here.
--“Trump administration risks Reagan’s legacy on nuclear disarmament” by Matthew Bolton for The Hill here.
--“China and Japan differ on tactics to halt North Korea’s nuclear programme” by Robert Delaney for the South China Morning Post here.
--“Nuclear Risks and Opportunities Under President Trump: North Korea and Beyond.” Hosted by WorldBoston. Featuring Joe Cirincione and Jon Wolfsthal. Thursday, May 25, 2017, 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m. Hampshire House, 84 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108. Details and RSVP here.
--“North Korea: boom or bust?" IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2017 Discussion Series. Featuring Victor Cha, Michael Elleman, Sue Mi Terry and Mark Fitzpatrick. Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 10:00a.m.-11:30a.m. IISS–Americas, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C. 20037. Details here.
--“Arms Control Association Annual Meeting." Hosted by the Arms Control Association and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Friday, June 2, 2017, 9:00a.m.-3:00p.m. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details and registration here.
--“A New Nuclear Review for a New Age.” Feat. former Senator Jon Kyl; Keith B. Payne at the National Institute for Public Policy; Franklin C. Miller at the Scowcroft Group; Rebeccah L. Heinrichs at the Hudson Institute. Tuesday, June 6, 2017 2:00p.m.-3:30p.m. CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here.
--”Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy.” Hosted by the Stimson Center. Feat. Barry Blechman, Toby Dalton, Matthew Fuhrmann, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Todd Sechser; moderated by Michael Krepon. Thursday, June 8, 2017, 12:30p.m.-2:00p.m. Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, 8th Floor, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here.
--“Off-Ramps to War: Paths to Building Peace with North Korea.” Featuring William Perry and Bruce Cumings. Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m. Lindner Commons at George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. Details and RSVP here.
--“The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb.” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Saturday, June 17, 2017, 12:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Greenmarket, 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Details here.
--“PONI 2017 Summer Conference.” Hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 11:30a.m.-Thursday, June 22, 2017 8:30p.m. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Center for Global Security Research. Details here.