Cirincione: Obama’s Turn on Nuclear Weapons

By Hans M. Kristensen

It is worth your time reading Joe Cirincione’s article in Foreign Affairs: Obama’s Turn on Nuclear Weapons.

And I’m not just saying this because Joe is president of the Ploughshares Fund, one of my funders. He does a great job in describing the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear targeting review and its place in the life of the administration with the myriads of policy issues and special interests that limit the president’s options in fulfilling the nuclear disarmament vision he presented in Prague in 2009.

That vision, as I wrote last week, was not visible in the Pentagon’s preview of it FY2013 defense budget request. It is an oversight that must be fixed. The defense budget must be in sync with U.S. nuclear policy, which now requires concrete steps to reduce the numbers and role of nuclear weapons.

For more background on the targeting review and the strategic nuclear war plan, see:

* Reviewing Nuclear Guidance: Putting Obama’s Words Into Action (November 2011)
* Obama and the Nuclear War Plan (February 2010)

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

4 thoughts on “Cirincione: Obama’s Turn on Nuclear Weapons

  1. I always enjoy reading a Joseph Cirincione article. I completely agree a review of the entire US nuclear agenda is necessary to determine the way forward. However, I also think this issue has been “reviewed out”. I do find it interesting that several American Presidents campaigned actively on ending US dependency on nuclear weapons and reducing the stockpile and, yet, little change occurs when those same candidates actually become President. Probably the greatest change to the American nuclear battle plan and unilateral decisions on the size and scope of the US arsenal occurred on the watch of President George W. Bush. Many of President Bush’s “changes” are still being implemented. Public progress is slow.

    I do take exception to the “cost savings scenarios”. The only way you drive cost out of the system is completely eliminate the weapon. It’s really just that simple. If you want to drive out cost in the ICBM program, eliminate it. The simple truth is that fielding 300 Minuteman III ICBMs, and their future replacement, will cost just as much as the New START proposed 420 inventory. Building only 8 nuclear submarines to replace the Ohio-Class (Trident) will cost just as much to build and support as the dozen the US Navy says it needs to efficiently do the mission. Postponing a new nuclear bomber only adds significant future development cost and eliminating the new bomber itself only adds billions and billions of annual dollars to the defense budget in support cost trying to keep 75-year old B-52H bombers in the air. There is no “savings”. However; just for an example, if you totally eliminate the nuclear mission from all manned aircraft; eliminate the B-83, B-61 and W-80 warheads (ALCMs), then, and only then, have you really achieved something.

    By the way, what ordnance is that B-52 dropping in the accompanying picture? MK-53? It’s huge!

    Frank Shuler

  2. Joe calculated that cutting 4 SSBNs and delaying the new bombers would save the US $3.8 billion per year for the next 10 years. United State “pays” China about $65 billion a year in interest on the over $2 trillion debts borrowed from China. I am pretty sure that the $65 billion interest is reinvested, so it just cost a few more bytes to store these numbers in a server at the Treasury Department. The $3.8b/yr saving is worth nothing when you think the nukes as an insurance policy for the “full faith and credit” of the United States. Imagine Greece had the capability to launch 1000 nukes in 20 minutes and then you get the idea.

  3. Did you see what Baker Spring wrote?
    The ideal missile defense interceptor for destroying all but the shortest-range attacking missiles would be deployed in space

    Where in space?

    In low orbit where the interceptor is only above the launch facility once a day at best? (Best get the baddies to launch during that tiny window.)

    Or in geo-sync orbit that’s really as far away as all the way around the world?

    I guess we ought to be grateful that he no longer insists on flying converted airliners around in Iranian airspace 24×7 forever so that they’re in range for a laser shot.


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