Budget for Nukes

As information disseminates from the White House pertaining the proposed budget plan, politicians in Congress need to pay close attention to the funds allocated to the maintenance and revamping of the current United States nuclear arsenal. A cursory glance at the United States nuclear weapons program reveals an aging arsenal designed for a conflict long passed. While the challenges of the second nuclear age bear similarities to the past Cold War necessitating the maintenance of an existing deterrence force, the changing and emerging challenges of the modern world need an analysis and design focused to meet these threats.

Chinese imperialist expansionism, North Korean aggression, Iranian nuclear ambition and acquisition, Russian annexation efforts, destabilization in South America–a laundry list of conflicts pose a challenge to the United States military. While a host of modern technologies are already in development to meet these challenges, the role of nuclear weapons in these emerging threats needs to be reassessed. The United States has maintained a healthy skepticism as to the efficacy of nuclear weapons as well as a desire to lead the world into total disarmament. However, disarmament remains a distant pipedream both unrealistic and potentially conflict breeding. Furthermore, seeing nuclear weapons as merely a function of a MAD strategy is woefully narrow minded and definitely dangerous to the national security.

Considering these realities, it is time for United States lawmakers to consider these challenges and assess defense budgets accordingly. Continuing to let the current United States arsenal age only increases the likelihood of human error leading to a catastrophic accident as well as lessening the veracity of the weapons’ place in our military strategy. Updating weapons for increased security, faster deployment time, and greater survivability would ensure that the United States arsenal remains effective and safe for years to come. The common argument that revamping a nuclear arsenal represents gross aggression and diplomatic negligence is as invalid as ever. Allowing a nuclear weapons program to stagnate and age only increases the risk of their misuse or ineffectiveness–outcomes which both pose great risk to all of humanity regardless of country. Therefore, rather than acts of dangerous aggression, investing in nuclear weapons overhaul is an effort of peace that should increase confidence in American commitment to continual safe use of nuclear technology.

In addition, a reassessment of the potential uses for nuclear weapons bears investment. Initially, the possibility of hostile elements developing small yield nuclear weapons that pose direct threat to United States security necessitates that our security forces understand these threats better than potential enemies. Therefore, expending the necessary funds to understand these weapons better than anyone is an investment into American security. Furthermore, as particular nuclear threats emerge from nations such as North Korea and Iran, the use of precision nuclear weapons as effective conventional arms deserves research and potential development. The effectiveness of low yield nuclear weapons against hardened targets needs to be studied so that military strategists are equipped with the most effective weapons to ensure peace and enable diplomats with the greatest tools that can be provided to them.

Furthermore, once the United States nuclear capabilities are upgraded and expanded, vastly more effective countermeasure technologies can be developed. If effective countermeasures against nuclear attack are tested against the best possible technologies then they will be most ready to engage any foreign threat ensuring the highest degree of security for the United States and Allies.

While total nuclear disarmament is a lofty and noble goal, a realistic approach to the issue demonstrates that relentlessly pursuing this goal lessens world wide security and increases likelihood of nuclear disaster and/or attack. Therefore, as lawmakers are currently engaged in revamping the federal budget, they need to investigate our current level of commitment to nuclear weapons and budget accordingly to maintain security and safety for the future.

Sources

Weart, Spencer R. The Rise of Nuclear Fear. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Sagan, Scott D. and Waltz, Kenneth N. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate. Third Edition. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2013.

Mahaffey, James. Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2014.

Bracken, Paul. The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics. New York: MacMillian, 2012.

Beckman, Milo “We’re Edging Closer To Nuclear War Experts are worried about India, Pakistan and North Korea.”, Five Thirty Eight May 15, 2017 accessed May 15, 2017 at https://fivethirty eight.com/features/were-edging-closer-to-nuclear-war/?ex_cid=538twitter

Mason, Paul, “Nuclear war has become thinkable again – we need a reminder of what it means”, The Guardian April 17, 2017 accessed May 16, 2017 at https://www.theguardian.com/commen tisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means

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