My latest letter to the editor
by Larry Kershner
Between 1940 and 1996 the United States spent nine trillion dollars on nuclear weapons including platforms development (aircraft, ICBMs, submarines and support facilities, command and control systems, maintenance, nuclear waste management and administrative costs). The US has produced more than 70,000 nuclear warheads since 1945. This is more than all of the other nuclear states combined. The costs for nuclear research, development, deployment, defense and dismantlement since 1940 is the third most costly government expenditure after general defense and the Social Security program. By February 2006 over $1.2 billion had been paid in compensation to US citizens for exposure to nuclear accidents in the US nuclear weapons program.
Production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear force diverts vast public resources away from health care, education, climate change mitigation, disaster relief, development assistance and other vital services.
The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that current plans for completely rebuilding of all of the US nuclear arsenal between 2017 and 2046 could cost $1.2 trillion — up 20 percent from the original Obama administration 2009 estimate. This figure could grow closer to $2 trillion due to inflation and future plans set out in the forthcoming Trump administration Nuclear Posture Review, set to be released before the end of 2017.
At the beginning of 2017, the US maintained a stockpile of 4,480 nuclear warheads with approximately 1,740 currently deployed, most on hair trigger alert ready for firing within minutes. However, since the US entered the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 2011 we have cut a total of 433 deployed strategic warheads from our arsenal.
So in our schizophrenic government, on the one hand we plan to spend almost two trillion dollars to build a genocidal weapons system that no one outside of Donald Trump even considers usable while on the other hand we have committed ourselves by treaty to get rid of the same nuclear weapons.
Trump threatens nuclear genocide against the people of North Korea while pledging to make our nation’s nuclear program “far stronger and more powerful than ever before”. It is plain to me that Trump doesn’t understand the qualitative difference between nuclear and conventional arms. Rep. Adam Smith stated “Congress still doesn’t seem to have any answers as to how we will pay for this effort, or what the trade-offs with other national security efforts will be if we maintain an arsenal of over 4,000 nuclear weapons and expand our capacity to produce more.”
The Republican Party in Congress bemoans deficits, and cuts programs for children, veterans and the elderly while giving tax welfare to oligarchs, might find a better way to reduce government spending in eliminating this plan to spend trillions on a weapon system that no sane person would ever use.
Think what kind of world we could now have if the ten trillion dollars wasted on nuclear weapons had been spent on roads, schools, hospitals and clean water around the world. Educate yourself about nuclear weapons. Call on Rep. Herrera-Beutler to oppose this waste of our tax dollars.