Invitation to Debate on Nuclear Weapons Reductions

Nuclear Debate at the Big 1800 Tonight

.By Hans M. Kristensen

Tonight I’ll be debating additional nuclear weapons reductions with former Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker at a PONI event at CSIS.

I will argue (prepared remarks here) that the United States could make more unilateral nuclear arms reductions in the future, as it has safely done in the past, as I argued in Trimming Nuclear Excess, in addition to pursuing arms control agreements. Mr. Rademaker will argue against unilateral reductions in favor of reciprocal or negotiated ones.

I suspect there will be a fair amount of overlap in the arguments but it is certainly a timely debate with the Obama administration pursuing additional reductions with Russia, the still-to-be-announced Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study having determined that the United States can meet its national security and extended deterrence obligations with 500 fewer deployed strategic warheads, and budget cuts forcing new thinking about how many nuclear weapons and of what kind are needed.

The doors open at CSIS on 1800 K Street at 6 PM for a reception followed by the debate starting at 6:30 PM.

Document: Prepared remarks

(Still) Secret US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Reduced

The United States has unilaterally reduced the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile by nearly 500 warheads since 2009.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The United States has quietly reduced its nuclear weapons stockpile by nearly 500 warheads since 2009. The current stockpile size represents an approximate 85-percent reduction compared with the peak size in 1967, according to information provided to FAS by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The reduction is unilateral and not required by any arms control treaty. It apparently includes retirement of warheads for the last non-strategic naval nuclear weapon, the nuclear Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile (TLAM/N). Continue reading

FAS Roundup: February 25, 2013

Meteors and nukes, additional delays for B61-12, and much more.

From the Blogs

A New Judge for the FISA Court: Judge Claire V. Eagan of the Northern District of Oklahoma was appointed this month to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by the Chief Justice of the United States. The FIS Court authorizes electronic surveillance and physical searches for intelligence and counterterrorism purposes.

Additional Delays Expected in B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Schedule: Hans Kristensen writes that NNSA expects additional delays in the production and delivery of the B61-12 nuclear bomb as a result of sequestration budget cuts. The B61 LEP is already the most expensive and complex warhead modernization program since the Cold War, with cost estimates ranging from $8 billion to more than $10 billion, up from $4 billion in 2010. The price hike has triggered Congressional questions and efforts to trim the program.

Continue reading

Additional Delays Expected in B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Schedule

The B61-7, which completed a limited life-extension program in 2006, will be retired by the more extensive B61-12 program.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) expects additional delays in production and delivery of the B61-12 nuclear bomb as a result of so-called sequestration budget cuts.

During testimony before the Hours Energy and Water Subcommittee last week, NNSA’s Acting Administrator Neile Miller said an expected $600 million reduction of the agency’s weapons activities budget could “slow the B61-12 LEP” and other weapons programs.

The Nuclear Posture Review set delivery of the first B61-12 for 2017, but that timeline has since slipped to 2019. Miller did not say how long production could be delayed but it could potentially slip into the 2020s.

The B61 LEP is already the most expensive and complex warhead modernization program since the Cold War, with cost estimates ranging from $8 billion to more than $10 billion, up from $4 billion in 2010. The price hike has triggered Congressional questions and efforts to trim the program. B61-12 proponents argue the weapon is needed to provide extended nuclear deterrence to NATO and Asian allies, but the mission in Europe is fading out and a cheaper alternative could be to retaining the B61-7 for the B-2A bomber and retire other B61 versions.

The B61-12 program extends the life of the tactical B61-4 warhead, incorporates selected components from three other B61 versions (B61-3, B61-7, and B61-10), adds unknown new safety and security features, and adds a guided tail kit to increase the accuracy and target kill capability of the B61-12 compared with the B61-4.

This publication was made possible by a grant from the Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.