WASHINGTON — A group of ten Democratic senators have penned a letter to US President Barack Obama urging him to cancel development of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile, in what appears to be the next salvo from nonproliferation advocates on Capitol Hill against the weapon.
At issue is the Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile, which will replace the Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) program with 1,000 to 1,100 cruise missiles, representing the US Air Force’s standoff nuclear delivery capability. The ALCM program is scheduled to age out in 2030.
Proponents say the LRSO is vital to maintaining America’s nuclear posture into the future. But opponents argue the weapon is too costly and unnecessary given other nuclear options, with a vocal minority in Congress starting to advocate heavily for that position.
“Independent estimates suggest that nuclear weapons sustainment and modernization plans could cost nearly one trillion dollars over the next 30 years, putting enormous pressure on our defense budget at a time when non-nuclear systems will also require major expenditures,” wrote the authors of the letter. “In particular, we urge you to cancel plans to spend a least $20 billion on a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile, the Long Range Standoff weapon, which would provide an unnecessary capability that could increase the risk of nuclear war.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who recently ended his campaign for the presidency.
Feinstein has been leading the Senate’s charge against the LRSO, pledging to hold hearings on the issue and questioning the cost estimates provided by the Air Force. She has been aided in the House by Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Full article: Senators Urge Obama To Cancel Nuclear Cruise Missile (DefenseNews)