Click the image to download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
'You're on an airplane, you root for the pilot'
"The man is the president of the United States. It's sort of like being on an airplane. You want to root for the pilot. If you're on the airplane with the pilot, you don't want the pilot to screw up."
-Ohio Governor John Kasich, upon leaving a meeting at the White House with President Trump Feb 24, 2017, and being asked by reporters outside if he had "buried the hatchet". (Kasich had refused to support Trump, boycotting the Republican Convention.) (ref)
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Dossier: The Trump Administration and US Nuclear Posture
Where will the Trump Administration Take US Nuclear Weapons Policies?
The new administration's attitude and policies on nuclear weapons are clearly a work in progress. Trump's own pronouncements on the subject have been spotty and sometimes seem contradictory.
He has called for a new Nuclear Policy Review to be delivered later this year. The last NPR was done in 2010.
President Trump's perceived enthusiasm for upending the status quo, along with a lack of clear indications where he wants to take it, have invited influencers to try and guide his developing policies. Certain quarters are pressing for production of 'more usable' nukes- tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use.
The Defense Science Board, in an unpublished December report obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a "tailored nuclear option for limited use."
(see: Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options)
"Experts on the Pentagon panel and elsewhere say the board's goal is to further increase the number of smaller-scale nuclear weapons- and the ways they can be delivered- in order to deter adversaries, primarily Russia, from using nuclear weapons first."
The problem being that Russia has spoken of "escalate to de-escalate", which is to say if you are losing to superior conventional forces on a regional battlefield, use a tactical nuclear weapon to stop further hostilities. The Panel wants to give commanders the option of responding in kind rather than having to choose between strategic warfare or backing down.
June14, 2017: Mattis "Open To Rethinking" New ICBMs and Nuclear Cruise Missiles
Pressed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who opposes the planned nuclear cruise missile (LRSO), Defense Secretary Mattis told a Senate Budget Hearing June 14 he's open to rethinking the triad, as well as the LRSO.
Mattis said he would be consulting with former Defense Secretary William Perry, who has advocated eliminating one leg of the triad by phasing out the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Perry met with Mattis on the day of the hearing, and later tweeted, "Very wide ranging, candid, and productive discussion with Sec Def Mattis at the Pentagon today."
Perry is also strongly opposed to developing new nuclear cruise missiles, which he says are "uniquely destabilizing" weapons, because an adversary cannot tell a conventional missile from a nuclear-armed version, risking miscalculation in a crisis.
"I register loud and clear the potential destabilizing view that some people see this weapon bringing and I'm taking that on board," Mattis said. (story ref)
Note that both ICBMs and the nuclear cruise missiles - the two weapons systems most frequently seen by experts as unnecessary and dangerous, are Air Force systems, and that Heather Wilson, a long time pal of the weapons contractors, is now Secretary of the Air Force.
For immediate release, May 19, 2017: A Preview of Trump's Budget: More Nuclear Bombs and Plutonium Pit Production
Santa Fe, NM. "The proposed level of funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA)'s Total Weapons Activities is $10.2 billion, a full billion above what was requested for FY 2017. In March, Trump's "skinny budget" stated NNSA's funding priorities as 'moving toward a responsive nuclear infrastructure', and 'advancing the existing warhead life extension programs'.
"Concerning Life Extension Programs, rather than merely maintaining and extending the lives of existing nuclear weapons as advertised, they are being given new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government. A current example is the B61-12 Life Extension Program, which is transforming a "dumb" nuclear bomb into the world's first highly accurate "smart" nuclear bomb.
"With respect to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), "responsive infrastructure" no doubt means accelerating upgrades to existing plutonium facilities and likely building two or three new underground "modules", all for the purpose of quadrupling plutonium pit production from 20 to 80 pits per year. (Plutonium pits are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons.)"
Read the full press release for all the details. Update:
Nukewatch's comprehensive analysis will be published in the first week of June. In the meantime, some key elements:
FY 2018 Budget Justification /
FY 2018 Budget Request for NNSA DOE Laboratory Tables /
NNSA Federal Salaries and Expenses, Weapons Activities...
April 18, 2017: Adapting Nuclear Modernization to the New Administration
Adam Mount, The Bulletin: "The executive order initiating a new nuclear posture review aims "to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored..." - terms that are sometimes applied to low-yield and special effects warheads. If Russia and China interpret these signals to mean that nuclear modernization is a US attempt to expand capabilities rather than maintain them, it could increase the likelihood that these countries will take steps to counteract a perceived threat to strategic stability." (Read the full analysis)
Trump Budget: Cuts to DOE, But Increase For NNSA
The Trump FY 2018 budget earmarks $28.0 billion for DOE. That is a $1.7 billion or a 5.6 percent decrease from the FY 2017 continuing resolution (CR) level. However, DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration would see a $1.4 billion increase, or 11 percent more than last year's CR level.
"That increase could be especially good news for NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation, the little-known agency that moves nuclear warheads around the country in 42 tractor-trailers, according to a recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times." [see above]. (ref)
For all the details: View/download the White House Budget Blueprint PDF
Update, March 1, 2017: "We want peace wherever peace can be found"
President Trump In his speech to the joint session of Congress on Feb 28:
"Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world, my job is to represent the United States of America.
"But we know that America is better off when there is less conflict, not more. We must learn from the mistakes of the past. We have seen the war and the destruction that have ravaged and raged throughout the world, all across the world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long, long process of rebuilding.
"America is willing to find new friends and forge new partnerships, shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found.
"America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world. Hopefully the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free." (ref)
Updates, Feb. 27, 2017: President Trump's remarks in a recent Reuters interview are cause for worry
"We've fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity. And I am the first one that would like to see ... nobody have nukes, but we're never going to fall behind any country even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power. And I did tweet that. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."
Now obviously the trillion dollar modernization of the nuclear arsenal and weapons facilities initiated under Obama is not intended to give the US only a second place in any arms race, nevertheless, Trump's words have caused a stir; and worse, have given encouragement to the unlimited appetites of the nuclear-military complex, including the weapons labs themselves. (Reuters interview)
New START a 'Bad Deal'?
- As for the New START Treaty, it does seem that the President thinks it is a "bad deal", as had been reported by anonymous White House sources a couple weeks ago. This time the POTUS himself said it, on record, in that Reuters interview:
"It's a one-sided deal like all other deals we make. It's a one-sided deal. It gave them things that we should have never allowed. ... Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it's START, whether it's the Iran deal, which is one of the bad deals ever made. Our country only made bad deals, we don't make good deals. So we're going to start making good deals."
Should these loose remarks be afforded the status of a policy pronouncement on the START treaty and the Iran deal? In any case they are certainly cause for worry.
"The President needs a briefing"
Hans M. Kristensen at The Federation of American Scientists wrote: "The President needs a briefing on the status of US nuclear forces... and the basics of the arms control treaties the United States has signed." (read the brief)
Trump threats to New START could imperil nuclear modernization programs
While the arms control community fears Trump's disparaging of the START treaty as a harbinger of a new arms race, some in the defense establishment worry it could "imperil the political consensus" on the trillion-dollar nuclear modernization program kicked off under the Obama administration. They worry that the LRSO nuclear cruise missile program would be at risk... (Aaron Mehta, DefenseNews, Feb 23)
* This week's recommended reading:
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
by Pierre Sprey and Chuck Spinney writing in Counterpunch, Feb 24.
"The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II- a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea. Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians' understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?" (Counterpunch, Feb 24.)
Trump appoints Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster National Security Advisor
Trump called McMaster "a man of tremendous talent, tremendous experience".
McMaster is "known for challenging his superiors"
Gen. McMaster at University of Southern Florida, April, 2015: "The United States needs to do a better job of learning lessons and adapting because of its "narcissistic approach to war."
And: "The military-industrial complex may represent a greater threat to us than at any time in history..."
'The reason, said McMaster, is the jockeying for defense dollars, which mean money for communities and thus gain political support from politicians in those communities.'
"And so where are these investments going in defense right now?" he asked. "They are going into areas that involve really big ticket items, that preserves the large capital transfer to defense industries and continue to bolster employment."
The military-industrial complex, he said, "involves increasingly as well think tanks, and when you see studies that are produced about the future of war or studies that are produced about certain aspects of defense strategy, you ought to look to see who is funding it. There is a think tank now, for example, that's about to publish a report on the future of the Army, and it's bankrolled by a defense firm whose business model is the integration of high technology capabilities and selling them to the Department of Defense," said McMaster. "What do you think that answer is going to be?"
In 1997 McMaster published "Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam".
Resources and Updates in Brief
New START Treaty Fact Sheet
New START gives both the US and Russia until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550- the lowest level in decades. It also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.
See CRS publication, The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions (PDF)
A Matter of Language- Or a New Arms Race?
"Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary..."
- Pres Obama, Prague Speech, 5 April 2009.
"If countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack..."
- Pres. Trump, (Reuters interview, Feb 2017)
Sept. 10, 2017: Trump review leans toward proposing mini-nuke
"'This is nuclear pork disguised as nuclear strategy,' said Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares. 'This is a jobs program for a few government labs and a few contractors. This is an insane proposal. It would lower the threshold for nuclear use. It would make nuclear war more likely. it comes form the illusion that you could use a nuclear weapons and end a conflict on favorable terms. Once you cross the nuclear threshold you are inviting a nuclear response.'
"But others involved in the deliberations contend that if the administration seeks funding for a new tactical nuke it might get a far more receptive audience in Congress... Already Republicans are pushing to build a new [nuclear] cruise missile..."
Feb. 22, 2017: Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump
"It is not Putin who is endangering US and international security, but rather the high-level political and intelligence enemies of détente... Nor is it Putin who is subverting the American political process, but rather the US intelligence leakers who are at war against their own president."
Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation
Mar 2, 2017: Round Up the Usual Suspects, It's Time for a Show Hearing "By excluding dissenting voices on US policy toward Russia, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been reduced to a vehicle for prejudice reinforcement."
James Carden, in The Nation.
Fmr. Sec. Defense William Cohen with Larry King
Feb 7, 2017. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen tells Larry King why he's cautiously optimistic about US-Russia relations, as well as Trump's security team. His concern? Process of implementation causing confusion. Hopefully that gets better with time.
Trump's Reuters interview, re: North Korea
"It's very dangerous and something should have been done about it years ago. It's very dangerous and very unacceptable. ... And very unfair to Japan.... It's a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion... It's very late in the picture right now... We're very angry at what he's done, and frankly this should have been taken care of during the Obama administration."
February 10, 2017: Kaczynski Would Welcome an EU Nuclear Superpower
- Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland's ruling party, told a German newspaper this week he would "welcome an EU nuclear superpower".
- A senior MP from Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) has called for Germany to press for a European nuclear deterrent.
- 'Spiegel' magazine has questioned whether it is time for Germany to acquire its own nuclear weapons and the 'Financial Times' has called for Germany to "think the unthinkable" on the issue.
Ref: Merkel denies 'EU plan for nuclear weapons'
March 6, 2017: Fearing U.S. Withdrawal, Europe Considers Its Own Nuclear Deterrent
"An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program. Under such a plan, France's arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection..."
(NY Times Mar 6, 2017)
Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally
"... When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
"When I presented that thought to him, he paused again, 'Now that's interesting.'"
- Salena Zito, in The Atlantic, Sept. 23, 2016.
"The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience."
-Donald Trump, quoted in "President Trump's First Term", Evan Osnos, New Yorker Sept. 26
Current nuclear stockpiles- for country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at Ploughshares.org.
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.