Off to a Bad Start — Why is the president letting America’s nukes rust?

It’s been said, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”… The United States in this case has no will, and therefore will in the future have no way to effectively stop other militarily advanced countries from attacking should they attain first-strike capability (or in Iran’s case, it likely wouldn’t matter) — something Moscow has wanted since before the Cold War.

In his April 8 article on FP, “Time to Face Facts,” Secretary of State John Kerry observed how “in the Senate, we clawed our way to ratification [of the New START Treaty] with 71 votes, a big bipartisan statement that the arms control and nonproliferation consensus could hold together even in a polarized political culture.”

The secretary fails to mention, however, that the reason he, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was able to “claw” together enough votes to secure ratification is that President Obama and the Senate agreed to a 10-year effort to modernize our aging nuclear weapons complex and our nuclear delivery systems. It was this consensus on the link between nuclear modernization and nuclear force reductions that made New START ratification possible — not a consensus on arms control, as Secretary Kerry suggests.

Regrettably, the joint commitment to nuclear modernization, codified by the New START resolution of ratification and the president’s message to the Senate on New START, is starting to dissolve due to a combination of budget pressures, new members of Congress who are unfamiliar with the state of our arsenal and the importance of maintaining a safe and credible deterrent, and a lack of leadership by the president.

To be sure, the president got off to a good start when he requested full funding for the weapons activities conducted by the National Nuclear Security Administration in his FY 2012 budget, yet he failed to fight for his request when congressional appropriators reduced that amount by $400 million. The following year, the president requested some $370 million less than promised for weapons activities, and deferred by at least five years the start of construction of a plutonium-handling facility in Los Alamos. His own Nuclear Posture Review had recommended that facility be operational by 2021, and the president had committed to that in his message to the Senate. To compound matters, we are told NNSA will cut another $600 million from weapons activities this year to accommodate the sequester, and various other promised modernization projects have been significantly postponed.

Development of a new nuclear submarine and the planned replacement for the nuclear air-launched cruise missile has been delayed by at least two years. We don’t know if the next generation of strategic bomber will be qualified for nuclear missions at the outset, if ever. No decision has been made to replace the Minuteman ICBM. The life extension programs for the B-61 nuclear bomb and the W-78 and W-88 nuclear warheads have slipped by at least two years.

Full article: Off to a Bad Start — Why is the president letting America’s nukes rust? (Foreign Policy)

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