Nuclear Weapons Issues & The Accelerating Arms Race: January 2024

FEDERAL BUDGET NEWS

Half of the federal budget (including Energy and Water appropriations which funds DOE) shuts down January 19 and the other half February 2 if a Continuing Resolution (CR) is not reached. House Speaker Johnson agreed to a previous funding agreement with the Biden Administration but the so-called Freedom Caucus is now in revolt.

Update: On January 18, Congress passes third stopgap funding bill instead of full FY24 budget, keeping the government funded until March. 

Sen. Martin Heinrich aids and abets the new, more dangerous nuclear arms race. He is outspokenly proud of all of the nuclear weapons money in New Mexico, and he is one of the chief congressional architects of expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores. In congress, Heinrich sits on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee from where he can direct $$billions to the Sandia and Los Alamos Labs.

But during the Department of Energy’s long presence in the Land of Enchantment, according to Census Bureau data New Mexico has slid in per capita income from 32nd in 1959 to 47th in 2022. New Mexico has the most children living in poverty (30%) and is rated dead last in well-being of children and quality of public education. Finally, in a report that the Los Alamos Lab tried to suppress, six county governments surrounding Los Alamos County suffer a net economic loss from LANL.

In fiscal year 2024 DOE will spend $10 billion in New Mexico, 75% for core nuclear weapons research and production programs and 5% for dumping related radioactive wastes in our state. DOE’s budget is 6% greater than the entire operating budget of the State of New Mexico ($9.4 billion).

Senator Heinrich, please explain what good all that nuclear weapons money does for average New Mexicans, and not just for the privileged nuclear weapons enclaves.

For much more, please see https://nukewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/New-Mexico-Americas-Nuclear-Colony.pdf

ACCELERATING NUCLEAR ARMS RACE

North Korea Issues Ominous Warning About Nuclear Strike This Year
North Korea has issued an ominous warning about “the highest risk of clashes this year” between the totalitarian state and its neighbor to the south, which could end in “a nuclear strike,” according to South Korean media. Yonhap News Agency, a major media outlet in Seoul, reported on Thursday that North Korea media condemned recent Army artillery exercises and naval firing drills and exercises. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, said the exercises are “self destructive” and called South Koreans “warmongers,” according to Yonhap.

Biden Releases Record NNSA Nuclear Weapons Budget

President Biden has released his proposed FY 2024 budget for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The budget for NNSA’s “Total Weapons Activities” for nuclear weapons research and production programs is slated to increase by 10% to $18.8 billion.

Of that $18.8 billion requested for FY 2024, over $3 billion is devoted to “Life Extension Programs” or “Alterations” that extend the service lives of existing nuclear weapons by decades while giving them new military capabilities. It also includes two new-design nuclear weapons, the W87-1 ICBM warhead (increased 50% to $1 billion) and the sub-launched W93 warhead (increased 62% to $390 million). Meanwhile, funding for dismantlements that provide a good nonproliferation example and save taxpayers’ money by eliminating long-term security costs is decreased by 4% to $53.7 million. That is a small fraction of one percent of NNSA’s Total Weapons Activities.

Two bright spots, yet still small relative to the U.S.’ planned $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program, are the zeroing out of funding for the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) warhead and stronger language on the retirement of the 1.2 megaton B83 bomb. Trump proposed to bring back nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, which were retired by President George H. Bush after the end of the Cold War. Biden’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review canceled the SLCM, but Congress insisted on funding it, which will only grow stronger with Republican control the House.

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