“Unilaterally reducing or eliminating America’s nuclear arsenal will not make the world a safer place,” writes Keith Payne, director of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University and former deputy assistant secretary of defense, in The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. experience since the end of the Cold War proves the statement true. America has already cut its nuclear weapons arsenal by over 80 percent, but other nuclear powers have not followed its lead.
While nuclear utopians believe that if the U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal other countries will follow suit, the reality is that not only have other states not done so, other nuclear powers have emerged, including India, Pakistan, and North Korea. China is modernizing its nuclear weapon arsenal as is Russia. Moscow has increased its reliance on nuclear weapons and has undermined nonproliferation by threatening non-nuclear states with a nuclear attack. Russia’s threats are particularly concerning in the context of U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commitments since some of the threatened states, including Poland, are members of the Alliance.
All the countries with nuclear weapons programs have been investing significant resources into modernizing their warheads and delivery platforms and maintaining infrastructure supporting the nuclear weapon complex. The United States has lagged behind. The government decided to maintain Cold War–era nuclear weapons rather than conducting low-scale yield-producing experiments that would increase the probability, already very high, that U.S. warheads will perform as intended. Both China and Russia have been conducting such experiments.
U.S. nuclear warheads are not the only hostage of the government’s inability to create and implement a sustainable, long-term, adequately funded plan for nuclear warhead modernization. U.S. nuclear delivery platforms, intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, strategic submarines, and bombers are decades old (half a century old in the case of B-52 bombers). Funding for modernization has been repeatedly cut and delayed. The Department of Defense’s $15.9 billion budget request for nuclear modernization is the first essential step on the long road to the revitalization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The U.S. nuclear mission will remain critical and must be sustained.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 4/14/15