Nuclear Weapons

Letter Urges Super Committee to Reduce Nuclear Weapons Spending

10.11.11 | 5 min read | Text by Monica Amarelo

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 Markey’s letter urges Super Committee members to increase U.S. security by reducing spending on outdated and unaffordable nuclear weapons programs.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.



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



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




*Organizations listed for affiliation purposes only