Toward nuclear disarmament

By From page A8 | July 02, 2014

Speaking in Prague in 2009, President Obama declared that, “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. … (T)o put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same …” At the time of Obama’s speech, our cold war nuclear arsenal was large enough to destroy the world several times over.

Fast-forward to 2014. In the 2015 budget request, sent to Congress on March 4 of this year, Obama’s administration proposes $3.8 billion to be spent on maintaining our nuclear “deterrent.” This plan includes modernization of several nuclear weapon systems, including extending the life of the B61 nuclear bomb, and transforming it into the world’s first nuclear smart bomb.

Simultaneously, programs for dismantling nuclear weapons’ systems and waste cleanup will be cut, as will nonproliferation programs that were designed to halt the spread of these weapons. According to a December 2013 General Accounting Office report, the U.S. will spend more than $355 billion over the next 10 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons’ systems.

Our nuclear arsenal today remains large enough, without improvements, to destroy the world. Increased spending and cutting programs that reverse this trend is a destructive pathway. Fortunately, and as noted by Tri-Valley CAREs, bills have been introduced in Congress that would each save $100 billion in the next 10 years by reducing the number of nuclear weapons and cutting nuclear weapons spending.

Sen. Ed Markey’s bill is the “Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act” (S 2070); Rep. Earl Blumenauer has introduced the “Reduce Expenditures in the Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN) Act” (HR 4107). Sen. Markey has observed, “America faces a real choice: spend billions on nuclear weapons we no longer need or fund programs that educate our children and help find cures to deadly diseases.”

Contact Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Congressman John Garamendi. Let them know that you support the Markey/Blumenauer approach to nuclear disarmament, and oppose the 2015 budget request that takes us in the opposite direction.

Judy Reynolds

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