Nuke modernization - sequestration disconnect Into Thin Air
"Congress and Obama are planning Reagan-era expenditures to modernize U.S. nuclear weapons under sequestration-era budgets. What could possibly go wrong?"
Jeffrey Lewis looks at the numbers and finds they don't add up. Something will have to give... (article)
New CBO Report Dec 20, 2013: U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade Reuters: The Obama administration's plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, nearly $150 billion more than the administration's $208.5 billion estimate in a report to Congress last year; since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023. (read more)(View/download CBO report-PDF)(analysis: Are New Nuclear Weapons Affordable?)
Nuclear Watch Press Release, Dec. 21, 2013: Nuclear Weapons "Modernization" Will Cost One Trillion Dollars Over Thirty Years; Locally, Los Alamos Lab Cleanup and Job Creation Are Imperiled (View/download NWNM Press Release PDF)
"No decrease in the number of warheads"
- Sen. Diane Feinstein: "The promise of the 3+2 plan was to provide a smaller stockpile in exchange for a larger investment. However, when the plan is examined, there is no decrease in the number of warheads... In addition, sequestration, shrinking budgets and NNSA's long history of cost overruns and schedule delays raise serious concerns about the agency's ability to execute this mission." (ref)
Nuclear Weapons Lobby Reportedly Spent $2.9 Million To Stave Off Military Cuts
"The nuclear weapons industry is erecting a missile shield of money to prevent federal government spending cuts worth billions of dollars. In the 2012 election cycle, nuclear weapons lobbies have given a total of $2.9 million to key members of Congress and deployed no fewer than 137 revolving-door lobbyists to Capitol Hill, according to a new report that details the lengths to which arms makers will go to protect their turf."
(story) "Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby", prepared by the Center for International Policy. (download PDF)
Jay Coghlan on the Nuclear Defense Industry
KSFR Santa Fe: Living on the Edge, October 17, 2013. David Bacon with Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch E.D. (online podcast)
Successful Citizen Activism Against
Expanded U.S. Plutonium Pit Production
This is the unsung story of successful citizen activism against repeated government attempts to expand the production of plutonium pit cores, which has always been the choke point of resumed U.S. nuclear weapons production. This history is a critical part of the march toward a future world free of nuclear weapons. We gratefully dedicate it to Leroy Moore, longtime activist with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and J. Carson Mark, retired director of the Los Alamos Lab's Theoretical Division and ardent arms control advocate.
(View/download full report- PDF)
New & Updated
Sept 26: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons* As Nuclear Arms Modernizations Surge, Welcome to "The Second Nuclear Age"
Nuclear Watch has been documenting and reporting on the growing discrepancy between, on the one hand, this nation's avowed goal of reducing both our doctrinal reliance on nuclear weapons as well as actual nuclear weapons stockpiles, and on the other, the ballooning budgets assigned to massive, across-the-board 'modernizations' of weapons, delivery systems, and weapons production facilities. There has been a lot of criticism in the expert press and in Congress (and notably from Senator Diane Feinstein), of the Administration's recent FY 2015 budget request, which cuts funds for nuclear security worldwide while increasing funding for new nuclear warheads, ICBMs, strategic bombers, and costly additions to US nuclear weapons facilities.
The New York Times, in an editorial Sept 22 titled Backsliding on Nuclear Promises, wrote "The administration is making a foolish trade-off... Investing in nuclear security protects Americans more than unwise investment in new nuclear weapons."
"A nationwide wave of atomic revitalization"
The Times editors note: "When he first came to office, Mr. Obama was clear-sighted about nuclear dangers and ambitious in his disarmament goals... But to win Republican support for the [New Start] treaty in 2010, Mr. Obama made a Faustian bargain, promising to spend $84 billion to upgrade aging nuclear weapons over the next decade."
Now, 4 years later, "the Congressional Budget Office estimates that Mr. Obama's plans will cost $355 billion over the next decade; other studies put the price at $1 trillion over three decades."
What happened? One might say the lack of urgency on the part of the reductions side of the story allowed the inertial momentum of the well-bankrolled and well-connected nuclear weapons industry to drive the course of decision making. In fact it's also a worldwide phenomena, in a kind of mirroring in which the various nuclear adversaries can feel justified in their "modernizations" by the modernizations of the other. Russia, for example, has launched a major revamp of all their strategic systems, particularly in light of NATO moves at it's borders; (NATO moves which themselves are a response to Russian actions to intimidate and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO). Britain is facing controversy over the costs of a massive upgrade to their Trident nuclear deterrent.
China, Pakistan and India are all working on new delivery systems, most notably, hypersonic cruise missiles, already under development in the US and Russia.
We are apparently at the beginning of a new nuclear age - but not the one you might have thought was evoked in Obama's Prague speech... rather we seem to be seeing the beginning of an age of unabashed and unapologetic pursuit of more and more 'advanced' nuclear weaponry. In this new nuclear age, when the criticism is raised that our nuclear arsenals are a useless vestige of the Cold War, the response is not, "Then let's take this opportunity to get rid of the damn things" but rather, "OK, let's make them more useful and relevant."
'The Second Nuclear Age': "A world where nuclear weapons count"
Los Alamos National Lab this last summer fired a non-proliferation specialist seemingly for supporting the President's vision of a nuclear-free world and calling into question current deterrence doctrine (see 'Doyle' below). In fact, LANL is now backing a different meme- Paul Bracken's thesis described in his book "The Second Nuclear Age", that the "multiplayer nuclear world" we have now is "more dangerous than the Cold War". And to underline the point, the Wall Street Journal blurb on the cover proclaims, "We are once again in a world where nuclear weapons count." (ref)
We might have thought President Obama had picked up Ronald Reagan's mantle in his Prague speech, reiterating our national policy, in line with UN resolutions and the NPT Treaty, to move toward a world without nuclear weapons. However the US, and other nuclear powers, seem to be moving in the other direction. We might have known that "perhaps not in my lifetime" was too weak a commitment to overcome the inertial tide of the nuclear-military complexes, too conditional to hold up under geopolitical strains. After all, if JFK had used that phrase rather than "within the decade" in his challenge to land our astronauts on the moon we likely never would have made it. It's really time to rethink this, to rethink nuclear weapons altogether, before it's too late to turn it around.
*The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was established by the United Nations General Assembly in March of 2014, to mark the anniversary of the day in 1983 when Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov did not inform his superiors of satellite readings he was monitoring that seemed to show an American nuclear attack had begun. It was indeed a false alarm. Had Petrov followed his orders, a full blown nuclear exchange might well have ensued. (ref)
U.S. underwater nuclear test Baker, view from Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, July 25, 1946
Nuclear Watch New Mexico Amicus Brief Filed in Marshall Islands Lawsuit "The U.S. and other nuclear weapons powers have not acted in good faith"
Sept. 1, 2014. Nuclear Watch has filed an amicus brief ("friend of the court") in the Marshall Islands' lawsuit challenging the failure of the nuclear weapons states to meet their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith leading to nuclear disarmament.
In support of the Marshall Islands, Nuclear Watch informed the court of U.S. plans to spend more than one trillion dollars over the next three decades for "modernization" of nuclear weapons, missiles, subs and bombers. Our brief also argued that current "Life Extension Programs" are endowing existing nuclear weapons with new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government.
Nuclear Watch's amicus brief is posted here (PDF).
The U.S. motion to dismiss and the other amicus briefs are available here. Marshall Islands 4/24/14 complaint (PDF)
- September updates from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
- Latest on the Lawsuit: NuclearZero.org
Sept. 2, 2014. In the Matter of James E. Doyle - Dana Allin, Editor, Survival "It is obvious that the real reason for Doyle being investigated and fired is not that he revealed secrets, but that he advocated nuclear disarmament...The classification system... is notoriously overused as a tool not just for protecting legitimate secrets but also for illegitimate censorship. 'Why Abolish Nuclear Weapons?' is, as far as I know, the only Survival article to have been classified by an agency of the US government. There is room for debate on the wisdom and feasibility of nuclear abolition, but before joining that debate, Doyle's article is required reading. Just don't get caught." (article)
July 31, 2014: Policy Specialist James Doyle Fired by LANL for Nuclear Weapons Critique and Support of Obama's Reduction Goals "It sure looks like he's being fired for supporting the President's policy." -Jon Wolfsthal, special adviser on nuclear matters to Vice President Biden, 2009 to 2012
" ... two members of a Security Inquiries Team abruptly arrived with a special, silver-colored briefcase for secure documents, and pulled out an article he published a few days earlier on the website of a London nonprofit group.
"They claimed that the article, an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and a defense of President Obama's embrace of a nuclear weapons-free future, contained classified information.
"The assertion astonished Doyle, since the laboratory's security authorities had already reviewed the article and declared it unclassified. But it was the start of a series of events in which Doyle first had his pay docked and his security clearance withdrawn, and then eventually was fired."
(ref: Public Integrity, July 31) "The world must reject the myths and expose the risks of the ideology of nuclear deterrence if it is to meet the challenges of the Twenty-first Century."
- From Doyle's original 2013 article: "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?" James E. Doyle, a nuclear security and non-proliferation specialist, had been at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 17 years. He is the editor of Nuclear Safeguards, Security, and Nonproliferation: Achieving Security With Technology and Policy (Elsevier, 2008). UCS, August 4, 2014: Los Alamos, Freedom of Speech, and Nuclear Disaster
-Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Massive" Upgrade For B-2 Stealth June 25:
Air Force officials have started planning a ten billion dollar modernization of the B-2 stealth bomber fleet to include a new receiver using VLF waveform technology that allows the bomber to receive messages in the event of a high altitude electro-magnetic pulse, and outfitting the aircraft for next generation digital nuclear weapons such as the B-61 Mod 12 with the new tail kit, and Long Range Stand-Off weapons- (air-launched nuclear cruise missiles). (more)
Defense Bills Would Create Separate Fund for New Ohio-Class Nuclear Submarines
Each U.S. strategic submarine has 16 missile tubes. Each missile can carry up to 14 independently targeted nuclear warheads, each more than 6 times as powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
"The creation of a National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund to pay for an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement could significantly alter the typically underfunded Navy shipbuilding account, while also establishing a precedent that other military services may attempt to leverage in years to come.
"Gordon Adams, who once oversaw the Pentagon's budget while at the OMB, noted that the implications are far-reaching. He argues that the Air Force might seek a separate account for a new strategic bomber or a new intercontinental ballistic missile, and the Navy might seek an account for a Trident ballistic missile replacement, all programs with national strategic military implications..."
-Frank Oliveri, CQ Roll Call, 6/9/14 See also: July 11, 2014, Lawrence Wittner,
"A New Generation of Nuclear Subs"
Related, October 2013: How to Avoid a $60 Billion Bailout for Navy SubmarinesRoll Call, Oct. 1
"If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!" - Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.
September 29, 2014: Eric Schlosser: Book Talk, San Francisco
7:00-8:00 p.m. Pacific Time, World Affairs Council, Auditorium, 312 Sutter St., San Francisco. RSVP and watch webcast online.
Sat-Sun Nov 1-2, 2014: bGeigie weekend workshop Santa Monica CA Safecast, the NRDC, and International Medcom are hosting the bGeigie workshop at NRDC's offices in Santa Monica.
Day 1: Participants will assemble and learn how to use Safecast's bGeigie, and hear from individuals and groups involved in citizen radiation monitoring.
Day 2: Participants will log radiation measurements in the field, and practice uploading and mapping the data.
See a report on the April bGeigie workshop in Washington DC.
Contact Matthew McKinzie at the NRDC for more info.
October 10, 2014: Hearing, Marshall Islands Lawsuit
Hearing on a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Marshall Islands under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to end the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament. U.S. District Court for Northern California, 9:00am, Oakland Courthouse, Courtroom 5, Second Floor, 1301 Clay St., Oakland, CA.
For an extensive weekly listing of nuclear-related events worldwide, subscribe to the Nuclear Calendar
Pres. Obama, Prague, April 5, 2009:
"Now, let me describe to you the trajectory we need to be on. First, the United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same..."
Maj.Gen. Harencak, Sept. 18, 2014:
"We have to convince the American people, folks in our government and folks in our own military of the incredible relevancy of a nuclear deterrent today and in the future... Unless we do that, it's going to be much more difficult to ... defend America in the coming decades."
Harencak, assistant chief of staff, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, was speaking at the Strategic Nuclear Enterprise Symposium in Wash. DC.
"What few Americans realize is that the U.S. is completely rebuilding the production side of its nuclear weapons complex, with new multi-billion dollar factories expected to operate until ~2075. The aim of the for-profit nuclear weapons establishment is a never-ending cycle of exorbitant Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons. These programs will not only extend their service lives for up to six decades, but also endow them with new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government..."
-Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico; comment on NYTimes article U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms 21 Sept, 2014.
John Oliver: Nuclear Weapons Oliver lays it all out- with humor...
LANL's Central Mission Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to "national security", but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here's the answer from one of its own documents:
LANL's "Central Mission"- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for
Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11
"We know that the Islamic State group has the means and motive to attain weapons of mass destruction. Until we secure all nuclear materials and eliminate all nuclear weapons, we run the very real risk terrorists will buy, build or steal the bomb - and use it."
"Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear-weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilization, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilization at a critical time."
-James Doyle, LANL Non-Proliferation Policy Specialist, in "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?" Doyle was fired from LANL in July of 2014, apparently for publishing this article.
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.