Plans call for five nuclear submarines, 72 bombers and 240 land-based missile systems to be built from 2024 to 2029. This, in addition to the U.S. nuclear portfolio, would be larger than the strategic nuclear strength of China, France and the U.K. combined.
Despite more than 40 years of progress in disarmament talks, the U.S. has proposed a new wave of spending that threatens to restock and restart the nation’s nuclear arms program at a time that the Congress is considering renewing sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear development, and shortly after President Barack Obama announced his commitment to the end of nuclear weapon use.
“Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how distant that dream may be,” the president said this past June in Berlin.
According to a recent released report from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the U.S. seeks to spend approximately $1 trillion over the next three decades to maintain the nation’s current nuclear arsenal, including buying replacement systems, upgrading existing nuclear devices and replacing nuclear cores.
This action seemingly contradicts previous actions of the Obama administration. In 2010, Obama signed the New START — or the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms — Treaty with Russia that reduced the number of missile launchers by half and reduces the number of deployed nuclear weapons both parties have to 1,550 per side by 2018.
The James Martin Center Report also contrasts the Congressional Budget Office’s December report indicating that — despite sequestration — upgrades to the nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion over the next 10 years. $241 billion of this total includes the planned expansion of the nuclear delivery systems network: including 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, a new land-based missile system and increases in the number of long-range bombers and cruise missiles.
This shift in policy, in fact, reflects directly on attempts by the George W. Bush administration to make relevant the nation’s nuclear defense system as a valid defense posture post-Cold War.
Of these warheads, 1,800 are currently trigger-ready, capable of immediate launch. The U.S. comes in second with 7,700, with 2,700 retired and ready to be dismantled. France has 300; China has 250 confirmed operable warheads, and the U.K. has 225. Pakistan and India both have approximately 110 each. Israel is thought to have 80, although, the country has never admitted to its possession of nuclear weaponry. North Korea has fewer than 10 warheads currently operable.
South Africa is the only nation to have nuclear weapons and to completely disarm. While it can be argued that the disarming was done in fear of the Apartheid State passing nuclear weapons to the control of the African National Congress, the act still represents the only time a nation gave up offensive nuclear capability.
“I don’t want the Russians thinking they have a superior nuclear force,” said Clark Murdock, a nuclear weapons expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. With treaty obligations to defend Japan and South Korea, as well as other members of the Asian community, the U.S. is obligated not only to present equitable force against Russia, but also China, North Korea and any potential threat from the Middle East.
While Iran has confirmed its desire not to engage in nuclear proliferation, Turkey has introduced the possibility of securing nuclear enrichment materials via a proposed technology export agreement with Japan.
Read more at Washington Leading The Way In The New Nuclear Arms Race