Letter Urges Super Committee to Reduce Nuclear Weapons Spending

FAS joined 48 organizations in signing a letter to United States Representatives asking them to cosign Representative Markey’s letter to members of the Super Committee. Markey’s letter urges Super Committee members to increase U.S. security by reducing spending on outdated and unaffordable nuclear weapons programs.

Additionally, this support letter offers specific suggestions to Congress on how to scale back new nuclear weapons programs and help close the budget deficit.

October 11, 2011

Dear Representative,

We, the undersigned organizations and experts, ask you to cosign Rep. Markey’s (D-MA) letter to members of the Super Committee urging them to reduce nuclear weapons spending and use the resulting savings to invest in higher priority programs.

There is broad bipartisan agreement that few national security issues are as critical as how to deal with America’s crippling debt.  Getting America’s fiscal house in order will require difficult budgetary choices.   This means that we need to make smart decisions about what is most needed to safeguard U.S. national security in the 21st century.

The United States currently spends over $50 billion per year on maintaining and upgrading a nuclear weapons force of 5,000 nuclear weapons and weapons related programs.  These costs are expected to increase in light of the Obama administration’s plan to spend at least $200 billion over the next decade on new nuclear delivery systems and warhead production facilities.  Much of this spending is designed to confront Cold War-era threats that no longer exist while posing financial and opportunity costs that can no longer be justified.

In the current economic environment, it will be counterproductive to make unsustainable, open-ended commitments to hugely expensive programs that are irrelevant to the most likely threats we face. “We’re not going to be able to go forward with weapon systems that cost what weapon systems cost today,” Strategic Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler said recently “Case in point is [the] Long-Range Strike [bomber]. Case in point is the Trident [submarine] replacement. . . . The list goes on.”

Fiscally responsible Republicans are also proposing to rein in spending on nuclear weapons.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who voted against the New START nuclear reductions treaty in December 2010, has proposed a deficit reduction plan that would cut $79 billion in spending on nuclear weapon systems over the next decade by reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to below the New START limit of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and cutting the number of delivery systems and warheads in reserve and by delaying procurement of a new long-range bomber until the mid-2020s.

The United States could save billions by canceling or scaling back new nuclear weapons programs such as the plan to build 12 new nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, which the Pentagon estimates could cost nearly $350 billion over their 50-year lifespan and new facilities to support the nuclear weapons force.  For example, by building and deploying no more than 8 new SSBN(X) nuclear-armed submarines, the United States could still deploy the same number of strategic nuclear warheads at sea as is currently planned (about 1,000) under New START and save roughly $26 billion over 10 years, $31 billion over 30 years, and $120 billion over the life of the program.

By responsibly pursuing further reductions in U.S. nuclear forces and scaling back plans for new and excessively large strategic nuclear weapons systems and warhead production facilities, the United States can help close its budget deficit. And by reducing the incentive for Russia to rebuild its arsenal, these budget savings will make America safer and more secure.

Please sign Rep. Markey’s letter calling on the Super Committee to increase U.S. security by reducing spending on outdated and unaffordable nuclear weapons programs.

Sincerely,*

 

Joni Arends, Executive Director,

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

 

David C. Atwood, Former Director and Representative

for Disarmament and Peace Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva

 

Mavis Belisle, Coordinator

JustPeace

 

Peter Bergel, Executive Director

Oregon PeaceWorks

 

Harry C. Blaney III, Senior Fellow, National Security Program

Center for International Policy

 

Beatrice Brailsford, Nuclear program director

Snake River Alliance, Idaho

 

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

 

David Culp, Legislative Representative

Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

 

Jenefer Ellingston

Green Party delegate

 

Matthew Evangelista, President White Professor of History and Political Science

Cornell University

 

Honorable Don M. Fraser

Former Member of Congress from MN

 

Susan Gordon, Director

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

 

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, USA, Ret., Chairman

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

 

Jonathan Granoff, President

Global Security Institute

 

Ambassador Robert Grey

Former US Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

 

Don Hancock, Director, Nuclear Waste Program

Southwest Research and Information Center

 

William D. Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project

Center for International Policy

 

Katie Heald, Coordinator

Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World

 

Ralph Hutchison, Coordinator

Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance

 

John Isaacs, Executive Director

Council for a Livable World

 

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director

Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore

 

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director

Arms Control Association

 

Kevin Knobloch, President

Union of Concerned Scientists

 

Honorable Mike Kopetski

Former Member of Congress from OR

 

Don Kraus, Chief Executive Officer

Citizens for Global Solutions

 

David Krieger, President

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

 

Hans M. Kristensen, Director, Nuclear Information Project

Federation of American Scientists

 

Jan Lodal

Former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

 

Paul Kawika Martin, Political Director

Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze)

 

David B. McCoy, Executive Director

Citizen Action New Mexico

 

Mark Medish

Former NSC Senior Director

 

Marian Naranjo, Director

Honor Our Pueblo Existence (H.O.P.E.)

 

Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU, Deputy Executive Director

Pax Christi USA

 

Christopher Paine, Nuclear Program Director

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

Bobbie Paul, Executive Director

Georgia WAND

 

Jon Rainwater, Executive Director

Peace Action West

 

Taylor Reese

Pax Christi USA

 

Susan Shaer, Executive Director

Women’s Action for New Directions

 

Karen Showalter, Executive Director

Americans for Informed Democracy

 

Nancy E. Soderberg, former Ambassador to the United Nations

and Deputy National Security Advisor

 

David C. Speedie, Director, U.S. Global Engagement Program

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

 

Carla Mae Streeter, OP

Aquinas Institute of Theology

 

Ann Suellentrop, Director

Physicians for Social Responsibilities-KC

 

Gerald Warburg, Professor of Public Policy

and co-author of arms control initiatives

 

Paul Walker, Director, Security and Sustainability

Global Green USA

 

Peter Wilk, MD, Executive Director

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)

 

Michael J. Wilson, National Director

Americans for Democratic Action

 

James E. Winkler, General Secretary

General Board of Church and Society

The United Methodist Church

 

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*Organizations listed for affiliation purposes only

 

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