No Nukes . . . For US



This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama, July 24, 2008, speaking in Berlin

Unfortunately for us, it appears he’s serious, at least when it comes to unilaterally disarming the United States.

Obama’s Showdown Over Nukes

The latest U.S. nuclear showdown doesn’t involve a foreign enemy. Instead it pits President Barack Obama against his Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, and concerns the question of whether America needs a new generation of nuclear warheads. While serving under former President George W. Bush, Gates had repeatedly called for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program to be put into operation, because the nation’s current nukes — mostly produced in the 1970s and ’80s — are growing so old that their destructive power may be in question.

“The Reliable Replacement Warhead is not about new capabilities but about safety, reliability and security,” Gates said in a speech in the week before last November’s election. In an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, released in early December after Gates was tapped by Obama to stay on at the Pentagon, Gates repeated that refrain. “Even though the days of hair-trigger superpower confrontation are over, as long as other nations possess the bomb and the means to deliver it, the United States must maintain a credible strategic deterrent,” he wrote. “Congress needs to do its part by funding the Reliable Replacement Warhead program — for safety, for security and for a more reliable deterrent.” RRW basically trades explosive force for greater assurance that new warheads would work predictably in the absence of tests, which the U.S. has refrained from conducting for nearly two decades to help advance nonproliferation goals. (See a graphic of the global nuclear arms balance.)

But Obama doesn’t buy that logic. Shortly after taking the oath of office on Tuesday, he turned what had been a campaign promise into an official presidential commitment: the new Administration “will stop the development of new nuclear weapons,” the White House declared flatly on its website, with no equivocation, asterisks or caveats.

Reliable Replacement Warhead

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) currently maintains aging Cold War-era, or “legacy,” nuclear weapons using highly sophisticated technology to ensure the reliability of these warheads. As various components age and need replacing, the characteristics of the weapon move further and further from the design originally certified with nuclear tests, making it increasingly difficult to certify their reliability.

The Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) is a replacement warhead that would allow NNSA to improve the security features on its warheads to prevent their accidental or unauthorized use. Modernization and improved manufacturing techniques would significantly increase the weapon’s quality and production efficiency. The use of fewer hazardous materials would be safer for the weapon handlers, weapon facility operations, and the environment. The RRW would have the same military capabilities as the warhead it replaces.

We all know by now that Iran is well on their way to developing nuclear weapons and North Korea may already have them, but what about our Cold War adversaries, China and Russia?

Former U.S. Defense Chief Warns of Nuclear Proliferation Threats

The international community faces a multitude of nuclear threats that could push the world over a proliferation “tipping point,” former Defense Secretary William Perry said yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 16, 2008).

“Today we are truly at a tipping point of nuclear proliferation … and if the world does tip, it will be irreversible and dangerous beyond the imaginations of most people,” said Perry, who chairs a panel that last month released a congressionally mandated interim report on the U.S. strategic posture.

Speaking at a discussion sponsored by the U.S. Institute for Peace, he noted that in the last 12 years, North Korea has conducted nuclear testing and weapons production; Iran has made substantial progress toward acquiring an atomic bomb; a smuggling ring has proliferated nuclear technology to an uncertain number of nations; and China and Russia have undertaken nuclear arsenal modernization programs, Congressional Quarterly reported (Matt Korade, Congressional Quarterly, Jan. 9).

So, while all our potential adversaries are moving full speed ahead with their nuclear weapons programs, Barack Obama and the Democrat Congress are slamming on the brakes with regard to the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It seems to me that peace should be maintained through strength, not unilateral disarmament. Apparently, Barack Obama believes exactly the opposite.

/as they say, may you live in interesting times

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2 Responses

  1. […] See also: Obama to seek major increase in nuclear weapons funding Obama to boost spending on maintaining nuclear stocks Obama Administration to Increase Nuclear Spending Obama to seek more funds to secure N-arsenal After pledging to ‘reverse’ their spread, Obama increases nuclear weapons budget The President’s Nuclear Vision Biden Sends A Message On Nukes Debate heats up on Obama’s nuclear agenda Nuclear Bomb Update Effort Slowed by Posture Review, Science Studies No Nukes . . . For US […]

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