Nuclear ‘Modernization’

The Pentagon considers eight projects part of its nuclear modernization budget: new ICBMs, cruise missiles, updates to submarine-launched missiles, a new stealth bomber, new strategic submarines, updates to existing gravity bombs, modifications to the F-35 fighter jet that allow it to drop nuclear weapons, and updates to the existing Cold War nuclear command-and-control network. Since 2013, Congress has approved about $67 billion for those, according to Forecast International, a data analysis firm owned by Defense One’s parent company. In fiscal 2021, the funding totaled $13 billion, or about 1.8 percent of the Pentagon’s $704 billion budget. 

Background

A Rough Breakdown of the Trillion Dollar Cost of Modernization

1/3 NNSA

The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy

Warhead Production

2/3 Department of Defense

Warhead Delivery Systems

  • Land-Based ICBMs
    • 642 (400 to deploy) new ICBMs 
  • SSBNs: Ballistic Missile Submarines
    • 12 new Columbia Class SSBNs
  • Bombers & Air-Launched Cruise Missiles
    • Upgrades to the B-1, the B-2, and the B-52
    • LRSB: 100 new B-21 strategic bombers
    • LRSO: 1000+ nuclear-capable cruise missiles

Warhead Production and 'Life Extension Programs'

Note that the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) runs all weapons related activities under the DOE. Environmental cleanup of wastes from nuclear weapons production is under the jurisdiction of the DOE without NNSA involvement. While the NNSA budget is set to increase, DOE's is set to decrease.

Warhead Delivery Systems

  • New ICBMs (aka GBSD, or Ground-Based-Strategic-Deterrent): This is a contested element of the planned triad modernization. William Perry and others have argued that land-based ICBMs are the one way a computer glitch could end up triggering total nuclear war, and should therefore be eliminated in favor of bombers and SSBNs. Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and Lockheed have submitted bids for the roughly $70 billion job.
  • SSBNs are to be designe and built by Electric Boat in Connecticut. Plans call to build 12, at a cost $5 billion apiece, and no-one knows where those funds will come from. There's been talk of a supplemental Sea-Borne Deterrence Fund; but Air Force wants a similar budgetary trick for its nuclear systems.
  • Bombers: Northrup Grumman is prime contractor on the new B-21 as well as the B-2 upgrade. Boeing is contractor for B1 and B52 upgrades.
  • Long-Range Stand-Off cruise missiles: This is the other most contested of the new systems planned, with many experts calling it dangerous and unnecessary. Air Force has issued a call for bids for 1000+ missiles. Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin are expected to submit bids.

RECENT UPDATES

Virtual Advocacy for “Safety, Security, and Savings” at ANA DC Days:

May 26, 2021

Nuclear Watch New Mexico virtually visited Washington, DC this month to participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s “DC Days,” an annual event where organizations from across the nation, whose members are directly affected by nuclear weapons production and the incidental health and environmental consequences, make their voice heard to federal policy makers.

Nuclear Watch NM was focused on opposing new plutonium pit production at Savannah River Site and Los Alamos, pushing for safe and secure toxic cleanup and prioritizing public health while saving billions by terminating ill-conceived new nuclear weapons programs. View more information on these issues in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s new report, “Safety, Security, and Savings,” which describes in detail the foundation of our 2021 advocacy. The report includes a series of fact sheets and recommendations covering new warheads, bomb plants, nuclear waste, cleanup, and more.

The Nuclear Bomb Is Ready: In Italy Soon. The B61-12 has a Nuclear Warhead with 4 “Selectable Power Options”

“It has been officially announced that the new nuclear bomb series production  will begin in the fiscal year 2022, beginning October 1, 2021. It is  unknown the number of B61-12 bombs that the US will  deploy in Italy, Germany, Belgium and Holland to replace the B61s, whose actual number is secret. Satellite photos show renovations that have been carried out at Aviano and Ghedi bases in preparation for the new nuclear bombs’ arrival, the US Air Force F-35A,  and Italian Air Force F-35A under US command will be armed with these bombs.”

BY: Manlio Dinucci | globalresearch.ca April 24, 2021

First published on December 3, 2020

***

A video was released on November 23 2020 by Sandia National Laboratories that shows a US F-35A fighter flying at supersonic speed  3000 meters above sea level, launching a B61-12 nuclear bomb (non-nuclear warhead equipped). The bomb did not fall vertically but glided until the tail section rocket ignition gave a rotational motion and the B61-12 (satellite-guided system) headed for the target and hit 42 seconds after launch. The test was carried out on August 25 at the Tonopah shooting range in the Nevada desert.

An official statement confirmed its full success: it was a real nuclear attack, proof that the fighter carried out at supersonic speed and in stealth attitude (with  nuclear bombs placed in its internal hold) has the capability to penetrate through enemy defenses.

The B61-12 has a nuclear warhead with four selectable power options at launch depending on the target to  hit. It has the ability to penetrate underground, exploding deep to destroy command center bunkers and other underground structures. The Pentagon’s program foresees the construction of about five hundred B61-12 with an estimated cost of roughly 10 billion dollars (so each bomb will cost double what it would cost if it were built entirely of gold).

Continue reading

NNSA Head Props Up Nuclear Weapons Modernization…Again

In her September 17, 2020 testimony before before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, restated the ongoing company line that more money must be spent on the US nuclear weapons stockpile, or the whole enterprise might fall over.

She stated, “The need to now modernize our nuclear weapons stockpile and recapitalize the supporting infrastructure needed to produce and maintain that stockpile has reached a tipping point.”

Continue reading

Don’t Preach Nuclear Arms to Archbishop

“That $2 trillion nuclear weapons modernization will do nothing to protect us against the global pandemic impacting Americans now. Further, the Sandia and Los Alamos labs may actually degrade national security with planned new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested because of the global testing moratorium. Or worse yet, this may prompt the U.S. back into testing, throwing more gas on the fire of the new nuclear arms race.”

BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO, SANTA FE
Monday, August 24th, 2020 at 12:02am

In response to (the Aug. 13) editorial “Archbishop’s nuclear weapons view needs a homily on reality,” I was one of the speakers at the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, organized by Fr. John Dear, at which Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester eloquently spoke. The editorial declared “neither Wester nor Dear appear to accept the premise there is any deterrent benefit to the nuclear arsenal.”

To the contrary, the Journal perpetuates the delusion that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is just for deterrence, a premise fed to American taxpayers since the beginning of the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. arsenal has always been about nuclear warfighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it. This continues to this day, as the Pentagon made clear in a 2013 nuclear policy declaration: “The new guidance requires the United States to maintain significant counterforce capabilities against potential adversaries. The new guidance does not rely on a ‘counter-value’ or ‘minimum deterrence’ strategy.”

Continue reading

ACT NOW TO STOP THE NEW BOMB PLANT!

The National Nuclear Security Administration was told by a federal judge to prepare a new analysis of the risks of an earthquake at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where nuclear weapons parts are made. Instead, NNSA prepared a very narrow analysis of the effects of an earthquake on three buildings at Y-12. They published this Supplement Analysis in April and invited public comment.

If you want to read the Supplement Analysis, you can find it on OREPA’s website: www.orepa.org. On the right hand column, just under the UPF lawsuit heading.

Your comments should be sent by May 26 to:
Ms. Terri Slack
P.O. Box 2050
Oak Ridge, TN 37831
or by email to: NEPA.Comments@npo.doe.gov

MORE INFORMATION

Russia Says Using New U.S. Warheads Would Provoke Nuclear Retaliation

Fires are still blazing near the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, marking the 34th anniversary of the accident.

ARTICLE BY: CLYDE HUGHES | upi.com

The Pentagon said the W76-2 nuclear warhead was first deployed with the USS Tennessee, pictured, late last year. File Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Bryan Tomforde/U.S. Navy/UPI

Wednesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cautioned the U.S. military that using those weapons against Russia would warrant a nuclear retaliatory strike.

“Any attack involving a U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missile, regardless of its weapon specifications, would be perceived as a nuclear aggression,” Zakharova said. “Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of American nuclear potential must understand that in line with the Russian military doctrine such actions are seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.”

The U.S. State Department suggested last week that equipping Navy submarines with the low-yield nukes — which have explosive power similar to the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during World War II — would only serve to deter military provocation from Russia and China.

Continue reading

Letter With >120 Group & Individual Sign-Ons Asks Udall and Heinrich to Extend Public Comment Period on Los Alamos Lab Plutonium Bomb Core Production

Letter With >120 Group & Individual Sign-Ons Asks Udall and Heinrich to Extend Public Comment Period on Los Alamos Lab Plutonium Bomb Core Production

Today, on behalf of more than 120 groups and individuals, Nuclear Watch New Mexico sent a letter to New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. It asks them to act upon their own words and demand that the public comment period be extended for plutonium “pit” bomb core production that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is fast tracking during the coronavirus epidemic. As sitting members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, Udall and Heinrich are in strong positions to make that demand of NNSA.

Continue reading

DOE Ignores COVID-19 Threat, Diverts Resources to Planning for Nuclear War by Releasing Draft Environmental Study on SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant

Today, in the middle of the growing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Energy ignored the real national crisis and irresponsibly shifted its focus to planning for nuclear war, revealing plans to construct a Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

DOE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today formally released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, whose proposed action is to establish the production of plutonium “pits” (nuclear warhead cores) at SRS at a rate of up to 125 pits per year, with at least 50 pits per year by 2030 as the stated objective for now.

Continue reading

“Proud to be an American?” What an American admiral forgets about nuclear war

“Today, all these years later, the Trump administration is much more focused on acquiring new nuclear weapons systems than constraining or eliminating them. And the White House seems all too eager to walk away from the treaties and tools that were built to reduce these weapons’ greatest risks.”

MONICA MONTGOMERY | thebulletin.org

Hiroshima, ICAN, Nuclear Modernization, trump administration, W93, Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speaking at the ICAN Paris Forum “How to ban bombs and influence people.” Photo credit: Orel Kichigai | ICAN
Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speaking at the ICAN Paris Forum “How to ban bombs and influence people.” Photo credit: Orel Kichigai | ICAN

In late February, Adm. Charles Richard, head of US Strategic Command, told a House committee that the innovations going into a new nuclear warhead are what make him “proud to be an American.”

He was referring to the W93, a new nuclear warhead that will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and that the Trump administration wants $53 million to start work on this year. While the design and timeline remain unclear, the administration forecasts that the price tag for developing and building this new weapon will reach over $1 billion per year in the next four years. The W93 would join or replace at least three other submarine-launched nuclear warheads that already exist and for which billions already have been and are still being spent to modernize.

Continue reading

Non-Proliferation Treaty turns 50 as US funds new nukes

“You can’t preach temperance from a bar stool, you can’t tell others not to have nuclear weapons when you’re busy ‘modernizing’ your own.”

ARTICLE BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO | abqjournal.com

Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose central bargain was that non-nuclear weapons states forswore acquiring them in exchange for which nuclear weapons states promised to enter into serious negotiations leading to their elimination. Those negotiations have never happened.

The Trump Administration has marked the occasion by finally releasing the detailed fiscal year 2021 Congressional Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA’s program for new and upgraded nuclear weapons gets a $3 billion-plus mark-up to $15.6 billion, slated to jump to $17 billion annually by 2025.

Continue reading

Resources

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

Quotes

Jay Coghlan Director of Nuclear Watch NM

U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms

“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 NM comment on NY Times Article U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms

Richard Sokolsky

This White House has Caved to the Nuclear Priesthood

“The United States can deter any country from using nuclear weapons against America and its treaty allies with a nuclear force that is far smaller, less destabilizing, and less expensive than the one the Pentagon is planning to build.

This White House has caved to the nuclear priesthood in the bureaucracy. Instead of staying on nuclear autopilot, the next administration needs to fundamentally rethink the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy, the costs of implementing the current strategic force modernization program, and the alternatives that could provide greater stability and less risk of nuclear conflict at a much lower cost.”

-Richard Sokolsky, Gordon Adams, Carnegie Endowment, January 18, 2016

For more click here.