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USA spending more on nukes now than during Cold War

RT | 10 November, 2011

Though it has been decades since the Cold War came to a close, the United States government spends more money on nuclear warheads now than it did during its stand-off with the Soviet Union.

As the US vows to cut down its arsenal of nuclear weapons, the amount the country spends annually on maintaining its supply is much more than America invested each year during the Cold War. Estimates suggest that currently the US puts around $55 billion annually into its nuclear weapons program, reports Mother Jones; by comparison, the cost of the nuke complex for the country during the Cold War ran at an average of only $35 billion each year.

Only three months into his presidency, Barack Obama said in April 2009 that he envisioned an Earth in the future fee of nuclear weapons. Just two years later, however, America’s arsenal of those warheads amounts to roughly 2,500 nukes ready to be deployed.

It was only less than two weeks ago that the United States finally dismantled its largest atomic bomb, the B53, which was said to be 600 times more powerful than the nuke that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan towards the finale of the Second World War. As that nuke was dismantled, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman told NPR that the bomb was a “Cold War relic” and showed the direction of dismantling that the United States was heading towards.

Even if the country is cutting back on its nukes, the United States has a backup stash larger than the active bombs, allowing for the country to in total have 5,113 nuclear warheads in its position. The surplus of not-quite-ready nukes is at 2,600, and though they cannot be deployed at a drop of a hat like the others, they can be reanimated as full-fledged warheads.

Peter Fedewa of the pro-disarmament Ploughshares Fund says that those nukes “could be ‘raised from the dead’ and brought back into deployment with relative ease.”

Under the START treaty that the US signed with Russia last year, both countries vow to soon enough limit their stash of active warheads to only 1,500. The document does not, however, say how many back-up nukes either country can have. In the interim, Mother Jones reports that the Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas holds around 3,000 warheads that are on the schedule to be dismantled, something America used to do at a pace of around 1,300 per year. Last year, however, both Congress and the White House said that the country would cut back on the cost of dismantling the warheads and instead now invest the money on the upkeep of already dead nukes.

At the country’s current rate, dismantling the thousands of atomic nukes would take longer than a decade Joe Cirincione, a longtime analyst of nuclear weapons policy, tells NPR. Currently, only around 250 warheads are dismantled at Pantex each year.

It doesn’t help that the country is more interested in revamping the retired nukes than pulling the plug on them entirely, either.

In 2012, the country will spend $4.1 billion on the “refurbishment” of retired nukes, while only a fraction of that — $57 million — will be invested in dismantling them. That figure accounts for less than one percent of the country’s total budget for the nuclear program. In all, America’s nuclear program operates at a cost of around $55 billion, which is spread across the Departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security. Despite Obama’s instance on curbing the program, the tally of funding is believed to have gone up by around $3 billion since only 2008, which at the time accounted for five times the budget of the Department of State — or 14 times what the Energy Department spends on everything else.

“The same facilities that dismantle U.S. nuclear warheads are also refurbishing US warheads,” Cirincione adds to NPR. “And right now a decision has been made to prioritize refurbishment. So we’re actually building more nuclear weapons than we’re dismantling. That didn’t use to be the case, but it is now.”

When weapons are dismantled at the current snail’s pace, the risks in place are of immense danger as well. “There are very strict manuals on exactly what you have to do,” Hans Kristensen, spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists, tells MSNBC. “How much pressure can you apply to each screw, what kind of glue holds the chemical high explosives together around the spear of highly enriched uranium.”

Both Russia and America have agreed to have an arsenal of only 1,550 deployed nukes come 2018, only a fraction of the 22,000-plus on hand at the end of the Cold War. Obama told an audience in Prague in 2009 he aimed “To put an end to Cold War thinking,” adding that America “will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.” As the country is investing more money in rebuilding nukes than kicking them to the curb, however, will the president follow through with his plea or will it be added to the list of other promises gone unfulfilled?

November 9, 2011 - Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Militarism

2 Comments »

  1. The world has a new US-Cuban Missile Crisis half a century later. It is Israel’s intent to destroy Iran as was Libya, but single handed, at least ostensibly. It is too soon to forget what we just learned that American pilots flew bombing/assassination missions from French aircraft carriers last month and deemed responsible for the unlawful attack that lead to Gaddafi being captured and assassinated ruthlessly.

    Obama’s political mentor and prime sponsor among the usurping high cabal was Zbigkniew Brzezinski; and he still is ex-officially. This is germane to this article because it is about the weapons that would destroy the world as we know it.

    Let’s face it, Israel has been threatening to attack, has the warheads and delivery vehicles made and given by the United ‘States. Obama did nothing whatsoever upon entering the Office of President of the United States during the blatant Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes being perpetrated on the Palestinian population in Gaza. Aid was not cut, nor diplomatic relations cut. Nothing whatsoever but the appointment of Zionist in fact!

    Interestingly, the revanchist cold-warrior Zbigkniew Brzezinski in a great act of statesmanship publicly gave his former student Barack Obama sound advice to prevent thermal-nuclear war.:

    ‘Brzezinski: U.S. must deny Israel airspace

    September 21, 2009

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — Zbigniew Brzezinski said the United States should make clear that it will attack Israeli jets if they fly over Iraq on their way to attack Iran.

    “We are not exactly impotent little babies,” said Brzezinski, national security adviser during the Carter administration, in an interview with The Daily Beast Web site when asked how aggressive President Obama can be in telling Israel that a military strike in Iran is not in America’s interest. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

    “We have to be serious about denying them that right,” continued Brzezinski, who endorsed Obama early in the Democratic primary but was not an official adviser to the campaign. “That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.”

    Israeli forces mistakenly attacked the USS Liberty during the 1967 Six-Day War.’

    http://www.jta.org/news/article/2009/09/21/1008006/brzezinski-us-must-deny-israel-airspace-to-attack-iran

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | November 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. [...] USA spending more on nukes now than during Cold War (alethonews.wordpress.com) [...]

    Pingback by WHERE THE NUKES ARE « As My World Turns | November 12, 2011 | Reply


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