FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Bomb Tests and Bidding Wars Herald New (Unlawful) $1.5 Trillion Nuclear Weapons Complex

Photo by International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons | CC BY 2.0

While much of the world pursues the abolition of nuclear weapons — embraced by the adoption July 7 by 122 nations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — the militarized Trump White House is pursuing plans for a trillion-dollar rebuild of the entire US nuclear weapons complex. The enormous, extravagant program is designed to produce 80 new nuclear warheads every year, including three new warhead types, a new $20 billion nuclear-armed Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon, a new $12 billion B61 nuclear gravity bomb, a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines, and a new $100 billion intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system..

As WallStreet.com online reported recently, “A review by the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan, nuclear weapons watchdog, [found] the total 30-year cost of the program could rise to $1.5 trillion” — $500 billion beyond what the Obama Administration first proposed in 2016. Beyond the colossal expense, the program appears to be a flagrant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.

The Trump administration must believe that urgent domestic and global humanitarian crises can be solved using guns since traditionally civilian White House Chief of Staff is Marine Corps General James Kelly, his National Security Advisor is Army General HR McMaster, and his Defense Secretary is Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

On Aug. 8, the militarized Energy Dept. and US Air Force conducted two tests of the new “B61-12” gravity bomb at Nevada’s Tonopah Test Range. The unarmed bomb test — using an F-15E jet fighter, currently employed in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya — demonstrated the jet’s ability to wage nuclear war. The B61-12 program “is progressing on schedule,” said Phil Calbos, the Acting Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. NNSA builds and maintains US nuclear warheads. Although NNSA is nominally a civilian agency, Mr. Calbos graduated from West Point and studied at the Pentagon’ National War College.

The B61-12 bomb test involved new “tailfin” hardware designed by Boeing Corp. NNSA wants the first B61-12s to be finished in 2022 and to ship 180 of them to five “nuclear sharing” NATO partners in Europe — replacing the ones already there. Critical German, Dutch, and Belgian politicians have called for the permanent removal of all US nuclear weapons, and the Air Force itself may soon remove its B61s from Turkey. Another 400 to 600 of the new B61s are set to be built to replace those now used on long-range Air Force B-52 and B-1 bombers.

The Air Force also granted $349 million in contracts to Boeing, and $329 to Northrop Grumman in August, and put the two giant weapons contractors into competition to replace today’s arsenal of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs. Popular Mechanics reports that “Northrop Grumman and Boeing each have been awarded just under $350 million to churn out Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction studies before the Air Force picks a single winner.” One of the two can expect to win the plum $100 billion contract to build the new ICBMs, dubbed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.

This push for a replacement ICBM flies in the face of authoritative calls for their abolition. In January 2015, General/Secretary Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “You should ask, ‘Is it time to reduce the triad … removing the land-based missiles?’” Speaking Dec. 3, 2015, former Defense Secretary William Perry called for retiring land-based missiles altogether saying, “ICBMs aren’t necessary … they’re not needed. Any reasonable definition of deterrence will not require that third leg.” (Other “legs” are submarines and long-range bombers.) Sec. Perry’s commentaries in the New York Times and the Washington Post last year were titled respectively, “Why It’s Safe to Scrap America’s ICBMs,” and “Mr. President, kill the new Cruise missile” (the LRSO).

Additionally, a blue-ribbon commission chaired in 2012 by Gen. James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for eliminating the ICBM system, not replacing it. At a Senate hearing later in 2012, Gen. Cartwright testified that the ICBMs could be scrapped without leaving the US at risk. Cartwright’s commission report was signed by then Senator and soon-to-be Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and recommended a US nuclear arsenal with none left on ICBMs.

Congressional pleas for austerity, fiscal responsibility, and budget cutting should be lampooned and rejected unless the $ trillion-plus nuclear weapons plan — prohibited now by the Non-Proliferation Treaty and soon by the Nuclear Weapon Treaty Ban — is zeroed out first.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail