Nuke modernization - sequestration disconnect Into Thin Air
"Congress and Obama are planning Reagan-era expenditures to modernize U.S. nuclear weapons under sequestration-era budgets. What could possibly go wrong?"
Jeffrey Lewis looks at the numbers and finds they don't add up. Something will have to give... (article)
New CBO Report Dec 20, 2013: U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade Reuters: The Obama administration's plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, nearly $150 billion more than the administration's $208.5 billion estimate in a report to Congress last year; since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023. (read more)(View/download CBO report-PDF)(analysis: Are New Nuclear Weapons Affordable?)
Nuclear Watch Press Release, Dec. 21, 2013: Nuclear Weapons "Modernization" Will Cost One Trillion Dollars Over Thirty Years; Locally, Los Alamos Lab Cleanup and Job Creation Are Imperiled (View/download NWNM Press Release PDF)
"No decrease in the number of warheads"
- Sen. Diane Feinstein: "The promise of the 3+2 plan was to provide a smaller stockpile in exchange for a larger investment. However, when the plan is examined, there is no decrease in the number of warheads... In addition, sequestration, shrinking budgets and NNSA's long history of cost overruns and schedule delays raise serious concerns about the agency's ability to execute this mission." (ref)
Nuclear Weapons Lobby Reportedly Spent $2.9 Million To Stave Off Military Cuts
"The nuclear weapons industry is erecting a missile shield of money to prevent federal government spending cuts worth billions of dollars. In the 2012 election cycle, nuclear weapons lobbies have given a total of $2.9 million to key members of Congress and deployed no fewer than 137 revolving-door lobbyists to Capitol Hill, according to a new report that details the lengths to which arms makers will go to protect their turf."
(story) "Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby", prepared by the Center for International Policy. (download PDF)
Jay Coghlan on the Nuclear Defense Industry
KSFR Santa Fe: Living on the Edge, October 17, 2013. David Bacon with Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch E.D. (online podcast)
Massive Upgrade For B-2 Stealth 6/25/14: Air Force officials have started planning a ten billion dollar modernization of the B-2 stealth bomber fleet to include a new receiver using VLF waveform technology that allows the bomber to receive messages in the event of a high altitude electro-magnetic pulse, and outfitting the aircraft for next generation digital nuclear weapons such as the B-61 Mod 12 with the new tail kit, and Long Range Stand-Off weapons- (air-launched nuclear cruise missiles). (more)
Successful Citizen Activism Against
Expanded U.S. Plutonium Pit Production
This is the unsung story of successful citizen activism against repeated government attempts to expand the production of plutonium pit cores, which has always been the choke point of resumed U.S. nuclear weapons production. This history is a critical part of the march toward a future world free of nuclear weapons. We gratefully dedicate it to Leroy Moore, longtime activist with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and J. Carson Mark, retired director of the Los Alamos Lab's Theoretical Division and ardent arms control advocate.
(View/download full report- PDF)
Nov. 17, 2014: Increasing the Effectiveness of Nonproliferation and Verification Technology Development Programs Initial Findings And Recommendations
Dr. James Doyle; assisted by Jay Coghlan and Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico
- Includes initial findings, key capabilities currently lacking, proposed national program structure, new mission areas for the national labs, key technical objectives, and summary recommendations.
This draft paper presents initial findings and recommendations for strengthening the nation's nonproliferation programs and verification technologies. In collaboration with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, this project is a direct follow-on to Dr. Doyle's February 2013 article, "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?". Whereas that study convincingly argued for global nuclear weapons abolition, it mostly did so in the policy sphere as an historic review of why the elimination of nuclear weapons is necessary. Dr. Doyle now seeks to move forward, advocating for broad deployment of existing verification and monitoring technologies and development of more refined future technologies.
The overarching aim of this project is to help make a verifiable future world free of nuclear weapons technically and politically feasible. A final paper will be presented in mid-January 2015.
View/download the initial report (PDF)
- See Nov. 17 letter from Senator Markey (D.MA) to Secretary of Energy Moniz regarding the termination of Dr. Doyle. The letter calls for urgent investigation of his termination and raises the question of whether the Department of Energy used classification procedures as a means of retaliating against Doyle.
November 25, 2014: LANL News: NNSA Considers Stuffing More Plutonium Into New Facility
Despite the fact that no one has come up with a good reason to increase plutonium pit production for the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, officials want to study the possibility of radically increasing the amount of plutonium allowed in a recently completed laboratory at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
View NukeWatch press release Nov. 25, 2014
Mother Jones, Nov. 10, 2014: Death Wears Bunny Slippers Hanging out with the disgruntled guys who babysit our aging nuclear missiles- and hate every second of it.
"America's biggest nuclear threat is not from a Russian missile, but a tragic accident. As one lieutenant general overseeing our nuclear arsenal warned, "The greatest risk to my force is someone does something stupid." Josh Harkinson's reporting found that the Air Force branch that's guarding our nuclear stockpile is plagued by cheating scandals, poor working conditions, and abysmal morale. Meet the young, bored, bitter missileers babysitting 150 megatons of doom...
"Rather than take missiles offline to repair a major sewage leak, a colonel ordered launch officers to defecate in a cardboard box... This went on for 4 or 5 months.
'You are sitting there being told you are operating the most vital system to the defense of the country,' says a former missileer who worked in one of the affected capsules, 'and then you are shitting and pissing in a bag. It just caused a corrosive lack of faith in our leaders...'"
"Ditching the ICBMs would save taxpayers $14 billion over the next 10 years, but not everyone's a fan of the idea: Senators from states where the missiles are based and tested have formed an ICBM caucus that isn't shy to throw its weight around. As a condition for confirming Rose Gottemoeller, Obama's recent pick for undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, the caucus insisted that the Pentagon maintain all 454 ICBM silos, even through it is trimming the number of missiles to 400. (Yes, we will man and maintain 54 empty silos.)" - Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones, Nov. 10, 2014 Also: A timeline of near disasters:
See Harkinson's companion piece in the same issue, "That Time We Almost Nuked North Carolina - and other terrifying near-misses, mishaps, and scandals from our atomic arsenal." Related: NukeWatch reporting on ICBM force morale problems and failures.
Nov 9, 2014: PAX Releases 2014 Report on Financing of the Nuclear Weapons Industry:
Don't Bank on the Bomb- 2014 PAX has released their latest report on the global financing of the nuclear weapons industry, providing detailed information on who finances the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons.
Key findings: 411 banks, insurance companies and pension funds invested 402 billion USD in 28 companies involved in the production, maintenance or stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
The top 10 investors alone provided more than 175 billion US dollars to the 28 identified nuclear weapon producers. With the exception of French BNP Paribas, all financial institutions in the top 10 are based in the US. The top 3Đ State Street, Capital Group and Blackrock- have a combined US$ 80 billion invested. In Europe, the most heavily invested are BNP Paribas (France), Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays (both UK).
Tell your Financial Institution that you don't want your money invested in nuclear weapons!
(See the full PAX report here)
DoE IG Report: Sandia Labs Misused Federal Contract Funds
Managers at Sandia Laboratories improperly used taxpayer funds to influence members of Congress and other officials as part of an effort to extend the lab's $2.4 billion management contract according to a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General report released Nov. 12, 2014... One consultant suggested the lab's message to decision-makers should be that competition was not in the best interest of the government.
"We believe that the use of federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition was inexplicable and unjustified."
- N.B. Sandia reimbursed DoE more than $226,000 for fees paid to a consulting company run by Heather Wilson, the former New Mexico congresswoman. (more on that story) Source: Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 12, 2014
CBO Projects Big Gap Between DoD Plans, Spending Caps
"The Congressional Budget Office projects a big gap between the cost of carrying out the Pentagon's long-term spending plans and the budget caps put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011..."
Austin Wright, Politico, Nov 7.
/ (CBO Report full)
United States Will Attend Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts The Nov. 7 State Dept. communiqué states:
"The United States is committed to seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons... However, this conference is not the appropriate venue for disarmament negotiations or pre-negotiation discussions and the United States will not engage in efforts of that kind in Vienna.
"We look forward to presenting the U.S. perspective at the Vienna Conference. This event will be a useful opportunity to highlight the significant progress the United States has made and the resources it devotes to create conditions under which nuclear weapons are never again used."
(See statement in full) More on the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
November 2, 2014: Obama's Nuclear Disappointment
William J. Broad, in the Sunday Times of Nov 2, reviewed the outcry Obama's latest budgetary priorities have stirred up among those hoping to see him advance us on the road to nuclear abolition. Instead, programs for nuclear security, weapons dismantlement and non-proliferation have been cut; while, as Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares wrote in an LATimes Op-ed, "Unless something is done soon we will buy thousands of new hydrogen bombs and mount them on hundreds of new missiles and planes."
Broad surveys the critical responses of the Federation of American Scientists, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, The Arms Control Association, and Ploughshares Fund to "the largest expansion of funding on nuclear weapons since the fall of the Soviet Union" (ref) The Times article is accompanied with charts:
"Which President Cut the Most Nukes"
One note: Broad begins his report with "Doves who once cheered President Obama for his antinuclear crusades..." The use of the word "doves" in this context mis-characterizes the debate, which is not about doves v. hawks. For one example, the founders of the Nuclear Security Project, former Senator Sam Nunn and Secretaries of Defense and State Kissinger, Schultz and Perry can hardly be considered "doves".
October 20, 2014: The Unaffordable Arsenal:
Reducing the Costs of the Bloated U.S. Nuclear Stockpile
Tom Collina, Ploughshares Fund Director of Policy, in a new report for the Arms Control Association, writes:
"The United States currently plans to spend some $355 billion to maintain and rebuild its Cold War-era nuclear arsenal over the next decade (and $1 trillion over the next 30 years), even as the overall U.S. defense budget is declining and U.S. military planners and the president have determined that the United States can deter nuclear threats against the United States and its allies with far fewer nuclear weapons."
"'The Unaffordable Arsenal' outlines common sense ways to save roughly $70 billion over the next decade across all three legs of the triad by scaling-back, delaying, and/or deferring expensive new delivery systems and by taking a more disciplined, straightforward approach to nuclear warhead life-extensions and refurbishments." Read the full report here.
Tom Collina joined the Ploughshares Fund in September after five years as the Research Director of the Arms Control Association.
Also: "Broken Budgets? Make a Withdrawal From the Nuclear ATM"
Jacob Marx reviews the report and summarizes where the $70 billion in savings can be found.
Obama Promised a "World Without Nuclear Weapons," But May Now Spend $1 Trillion on Upgrades
Amy Goodman with Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation DemocracyNow, Oct.24, 2014
How big a nuclear arsenal do we really need?
"If President Obama wants to use his last two years to further his agenda, here's something he could do that would both advance the cause of global security and save the country money: suspend plans to develop a new arsenal of American nuclear weapons...." Joseph Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund, LA Times OpEd, Oct 22.
Next-Gen Subs: Navy's Budget Gimmicks Don't Hold Water
"Passing off the cost of next generation submarines onto the Pentagon is a ridiculous budgetary dodge...
And don't for a second think the Army and the Air Force aren't paying close attention to this attempt at budgetary sleight of hand. Because if submarines are 'national assets', what are land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles? What are long range bombers?"
Ryan Alexander, U.S. News and World Report, Oct. 21, 2014
Oct 21. Missile Defense: $41 billion wasted and counting
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) goes after missile defense in a new report on the 100 most wasteful government programs. "Despite obvious flaws, the Missile Defense Agency and Congress are moving forward with a $1 billion decision based on a 30% success rate in tests that fail to replicate in a real world scenario... By the time it is completed, the Defense Department will have spent more than $41 billion on a missile defense system." - '2014 Wastebook' Full disclosure: Nuclear Watch NM is a grantee of Ploughshares Fund.
Fired LANL Expert, Lab Watchdogs Team Up;
Launch Project to Increase Nonproliferation Programs,
Cut Exorbitant Nuclear Weapons "Modernization" Programs
"Santa Fe, NM October 9. Today, Dr. James Doyle and Nuclear Watch New Mexico begin a collaborative project to assess and augment the nonproliferation programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration. Our ultimate goal is to redirect the focus of three national security labs from wasteful nuclear weapons research and production programs to expanded research and development of the monitoring and verification technologies needed for global abolition.
This project is a direct follow-on to Dr. Doyle's February 2013 study "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?". LANL fired Doyle in July 2014, in what was widely viewed as a political move to punish an internal voice of nuclear weapons abolition. But Doyle is determined now more than ever to favorably impact global nonproliferation issues, perhaps even more effectively after being forced out of the Lab.
"Dr. Doyle commented, 'It is important that the people of New Mexico and the nation pay close attention to taxpayer-funded priorities at our national labs. Only a few hundred conservatively maintained nuclear weapons are needed to deter others while we work towards global abolition. Instead the government plans to waste our treasury on unneeded, provocative, so-called modernization programs. To help counter this, our project will identify and seek to augment nuclear security programs and investments that can truly make the nation and the world safer.'"
(View/download full Nuclear Watch Press Release)
- Dr. James Doyle: Biography
DOE IG: Los Alamos Lab Played a Major Role in Causing the WIPP Accidents
Recovery Plan: 5 Years, $500 million
Oct 1. It seems sloppiness and failures by Energy Solutions*, the private contractor charged with mixing and packaging waste at LANL, along with others by 'Nuclear Waste Partnership', operators of WIPP, will close or cripple the $19 billion installation for 5 years and cost the taxpayer $500 million. And that's the DOE estimate.
See our coverage of the IG Report and the WIPP Recovery Plan here.
Sept 26: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons* As Nuclear Arms Modernizations Surge, Welcome to "The Second Nuclear Age"
Nuclear Watch has been documenting and reporting on the growing discrepancy between, on the one hand, this nation's avowed goal of reducing both our doctrinal reliance on nuclear weapons as well as actual nuclear weapons stockpiles, and on the other, the ballooning budgets assigned to massive, across-the-board 'modernizations' of weapons, delivery systems, and weapons production facilities. There has been a lot of criticism in the expert press and in Congress (and notably from Senator Diane Feinstein), of the Administration's recent FY 2015 budget request, which cuts funds for nuclear security worldwide while increasing funding for new nuclear warheads, ICBMs, strategic bombers, and costly additions to US nuclear weapons facilities.
The New York Times, in an editorial Sept 22 titled Backsliding on Nuclear Promises, wrote "The administration is making a foolish trade-off... Investing in nuclear security protects Americans more than unwise investment in new nuclear weapons."
"A nationwide wave of atomic revitalization"
The Times editors note: "When he first came to office, Mr. Obama was clear-sighted about nuclear dangers and ambitious in his disarmament goals... But to win Republican support for the [New Start] treaty in 2010, Mr. Obama made a Faustian bargain, promising to spend $84 billion to upgrade aging nuclear weapons over the next decade."
Now, 4 years later, "the Congressional Budget Office estimates that Mr. Obama's plans will cost $355 billion over the next decade; other studies put the price at $1 trillion over three decades."
We are apparently at the beginning of a new nuclear age - but not the one you might have thought was evoked in Obama's Prague speech... rather we seem to be seeing the beginning of an age of unabashed and unapologetic pursuit of more and more 'advanced' nuclear weaponry. In this new nuclear age, when the criticism is raised that our nuclear arsenals are a useless vestige of the Cold War, the response is not, "Then let's take this opportunity to get rid of the damn things" but rather, "OK, let's make them more useful and relevant."
'The Second Nuclear Age': "A world where nuclear weapons count"
Los Alamos National Lab this last summer fired a non-proliferation specialist seemingly for supporting the President's vision of a nuclear-free world and calling into question current deterrence doctrine (see 'Doyle' below). In fact, LANL is now backing a different meme- Paul Bracken's thesis described in his book "The Second Nuclear Age", that the "multiplayer nuclear world" we have now is "more dangerous than the Cold War". And to underline the point, the Wall Street Journal blurb on the cover proclaims, "We are once again in a world where nuclear weapons count." (ref)
We might have thought President Obama had picked up Ronald Reagan's mantle in his Prague speech, reiterating our national policy, in line with UN resolutions and the NPT Treaty, to move toward a world without nuclear weapons. However the US, and other nuclear powers, seem to be moving in the other direction. We might have known that "perhaps not in my lifetime" was too weak a commitment to overcome the inertial tide of the nuclear-military complexes, too conditional to hold up under geopolitical strains. After all, if JFK had used that phrase rather than "within the decade" in his challenge to land our astronauts on the moon we likely never would have made it. It's really time to rethink this, to rethink nuclear weapons altogether, before it's too late to turn it around.
- Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris have done a survey of the various "modernization" programs among the nuclear powers; see a chart here.
- See a chart from the NNSA showing planned and ongoing improvements and additions to US nuclear weapons production facilities here.
*The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was established by the United Nations General Assembly in March of 2014, to mark the anniversary of the day in 1983 when Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov did not inform his superiors of satellite readings he was monitoring that seemed to show an American nuclear attack had begun. It was indeed a false alarm. Had Petrov followed his orders, a full blown nuclear exchange might well have ensued. (ref)
U.S. underwater nuclear test Baker, view from Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, July 25, 1946
Nuclear Watch New Mexico Amicus Brief Filed in Marshall Islands Lawsuit "The U.S. and other nuclear weapons powers have not acted in good faith" Sept. 1, 2014. Nuclear Watch has filed an amicus brief ("friend of the court") in the Marshall Islands' lawsuit challenging the failure of the nuclear weapons states to meet their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith leading to nuclear disarmament.
In support of the Marshall Islands, Nuclear Watch informed the court of U.S. plans to spend more than one trillion dollars over the next three decades for "modernization" of nuclear weapons, missiles, subs and bombers. Our brief also argued that current "Life Extension Programs" are endowing existing nuclear weapons with new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government.
Nuclear Watch's amicus brief is posted here (PDF).
The U.S. motion to dismiss and the other amicus briefs are available here. Marshall Islands 4/24/14 complaint (PDF)
- September updates from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
- Latest on the Lawsuit: NuclearZero.org
"If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!" - Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.
"Unfortunately, if earlier efforts are any indication, the risk is that the Hagel review, continued turf protection by the military services and the nuclear establishment, and a more conservative congress, will react to the problems and deteriorating relations with Russia by boosting spending on the existing force structure to demonstrate commitment and resolve without fixing the underlying mission, structure, and cost issues arising from maintaining an unaffordable and bloated nuclear arsenal that is in excess of what's needed to meet U.S. and international security commitments."
- Hans M. Kristensen, F.A.S., commenting on the Hagel Nuclear Review, Nov 14, 2014.
January 16, 2015: Hearing, Marshall Islands Lawsuit
Hearing on a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Marshall Islands under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to end the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament. U.S. District Court for Northern California, 9:00am, Oakland Courthouse, Courtroom 5, Second Floor, 1301 Clay St., Oakland, CA.
(more info at NAPF.org)
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John Oliver: Nuclear Weapons Oliver lays it all out- with humor...
"What few Americans realize is that the U.S. is
completely rebuilding the production side of its nuclear weapons complex, with new multi-billion dollar factories expected to operate until ~2075. The aim of the for-profit nuclear weapons establishment is a never-ending cycle of exorbitant Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons. These programs will not only extend their service lives for up to six decades, but also endow them with new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government..."
-Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico; comment on NYTimes article U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms 21 Sept, 2014.
LANL's Central Mission Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to "national security", but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here's the answer from one of its own documents:
LANL's "Central Mission"- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for
Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11
Defense Bills Would Create Separate Fund for New Ohio-Class Nuclear Submarines "Far-reaching implications"
"The creation of a National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund to pay for an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement could significantly alter the typically underfunded Navy shipbuilding account, while also establishing a precedent that other military services may attempt to leverage in years to come.
More: Frank Oliveri, CQ Roll Call, 6/9/14
Click image for full graphic from Ploughshares
"I get it, you don't like science. And you don't like science that interferes with the interests of your corporate clients. But we need science to protect public health and the environment."
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) speaking on the House floor Nov. 18 to Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, sponsor of a bill which would ban scientists from advising the EPA on their own research.
"The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance."
"Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear-weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilization, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilization at a critical time."
James Doyle, LANL Non-Proliferation Policy Specialist, in "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?" Doyle was fired from LANL in July of 2014, apparently for publishing this article.
"We know that the Islamic State group has the means and motive to attain weapons of mass destruction. Until we secure all nuclear materials and eliminate all nuclear weapons, we run the very real risk terrorists will buy, build or steal the bomb - and use it."
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.