Letter Urges Super Committee to Reduce Nuclear Weapons Spending

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 Markey’s letter urges Super Committee members to increase U.S. security by reducing spending on outdated and unaffordable nuclear weapons programs.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