US nuclear arms plan 'misguided': group
By David Alexander, ReutersWASHINGTON--An Obama administration plan to spend US$60 billion over the next 25 years to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal is misguided and violates the spirit of its pledge not to develop new nuclear arms, a Union of Concerned Scientists report said on Thursday.
October 19, 2013, 12:42 am TWN
The 81-page report by the independent nonprofit said the US$60 billion for upgrading warheads is a fraction of what Washington plans to spend on its nuclear deterrent in the coming decades, on top of billions for new manufacturing facilities and billions more for delivery systems like submarines.
The spending comes despite President Barack Obama's endorsement of the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and his negotiation of the “New START” treaty with Russia, which committed the former Cold War rivals to reducing deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 each by 2018.
But Obama also has insisted that the United States must be confident that its remaining weapons will work as it attempts negotiate smaller and smaller nuclear arsenals with other atomic weapons states.
And he has come under pressure from Republicans to address the problems of the aging U.S. nuclear complex.
The Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for the maintenance and reliability of the arsenal, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.
The United States produced its last nuclear weapon, based on 1970s technology, in 1990 and halted underground nuclear testing in 1992. Since then it has relied on computer simulation for testing and has refurbished older weapons to extend their life.
But concern about security and reliability has prompted the NNSA and the Pentagon to push for additional efforts to modernize the weapons. A plan released in June by the NNSA, which is part of the Department of Energy, calls for a new manufacturing complex to reconfigure and upgrade the arms.
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