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.
A Rough Breakdown of the Trillion Dollar Cost of Modernization
The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy
- Warhead "Life Extension Programs"
- Includes upgrades to B61, W80, W76
- New plutonium pit production
- Includes upgrades to B61, W80, W76
- Nuclear Weapons Labs
- Nuclear Weapons Production Plants
- Other Facilities, infrastructure
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
- Upgrades to the B-1, the B-2, and the B-52
Warhead Production and 'Life Extension Programs'
- The W76 was chosen as a SSBN (submarine-launched ICBM) warhead.
- The W80-4 is to be the warhead for the next-gen nuclear cruise missile (LRSO).
- The B61-12 upgrade with new Tail-kit.
- Plutonium pit production.
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.
The president’s spending proposal requests money for a new arms race with Russia and China, and restores nuclear weapons as central to military policy.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has begun to put a price tag on its growing arms race with Russia and China, and the early numbers indicate that restoring nuclear weapons to a central role in American military strategy will cost tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.
In the 2021 budget released on Monday, the administration revealed for the first time that it intended to create a new submarine-launched nuclear warhead, named the W93. Its development is part of a proposed 19 percent increase this year, to $19.8 billion, for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department agency that maintains the nuclear stockpile and develops new nuclear warheads. More tellingly, that is a jump of more than 50 percent since 2017, President Trump’s first year in office.
According to media reports, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semiautonomous nuclear weapons agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), has persuaded President Trump to increase its weapons budget by more than 20% in one year. NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty has claimed that a failure to give her agency that huge increase would amount to “unilateral disarmament” despite the U.S. having thousands of nuclear warheads ready to launch on a moment’s notice.
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a 33-year-old network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear weapons sites, strongly opposes this unnecessary and dangerous spending that promotes a new global nuclear arms race. In addition, Trump’s FY 2021 budget request is expected to cut or hold flat cleanup, nonproliferation, dismantlement and renewable energy programs that meet real national needs to pay for more unneeded nuclear weapons. To compound all this, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 27 consecutive years.
Multiple sources indicate the FY2021 budget request from the Trump Administration will seek a dramatic increase in funding for nuclear weapons—an unprecedented leap of 20% over current spending levels, bringing the total for The National Nuclear Security Administration to $20 billion. Reportedly, the increase is earmarked principally for modernization programs for warhead design and plutonium pit manufacturing facilities. News reports have included outlandish statements from NNSA Administrator Lisa GordonHagerty who suggested providing any less that $20 billion would amount to “unilateral disarmament,” a claim no truer than the since discredited declaration of a missile gap with the Soviets in 1962.
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a nationwide coalition of grassroots watchdog groups from every major US nuclear weapons facility, notes that the current US nuclear stockpile has been certified reliable and is expected to be reliable for at least forty more years. ANA released a letter to Congressional leadership calling for a hard look at the budget request when it arrives, scheduled for February 10, and encouraging House and Senate members to reject the increase as unjustified and unwise.
“The United States retains possession of nearly 4,000 stockpiled and deployed nuclear warheads and bombs. This is hardly disarmament,” said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore, California. “Moreover, a 20% increase for weapons activities would perilously escalate an already dangerous new arms race. Rather than speed the design and production of new warheads, such as the W87-1, the country would be better served by cleaning up the contamination impacting our communities from the
first cold war. ”
ANA has tracked spending on nuclear weapons programs for more than thirty years.
This “boost” will surely be reflected in the FY 2021 budget to be released February 10. The nuclear weapons increase is believed to be for new warheads (so-called Life Extension Programs) and expanded plutonium pit production. To pay for it, nonproliferation, dismantlement and cleanup programs are likely at risk.
WASHINGTON ― U.S. President Donald Trump has settled an internal battle over whether to seek $20 billion for the federal agency that maintains America’s weapons, or less money, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., confirmed Tuesday.
The president will ask for the $20 billion.
The decision came after the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, agitated internally in favor of boosting the budget for nuclear weapons modernization in fiscal 2021 ― a position later backed by Inhofe and other congressional Republicans.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 24, 2019
Santa Fe, NM – Today, Pope Francis called for the global abolition of nuclear weapons while paying homage to the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two cities were both destroyed by atomic weapons designed and produced by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, located in northern New Mexico’s Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese.
The Holy Father declared:
“With deep conviction I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago. We will be judged on this. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth. How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”
Two of the U.S.’ three nuclear weapons laboratories, the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, are located within the Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese. Together the two labs spend $4 billion per year on core nuclear weapons design, testing and production programs. In addition, up to 2,500 nuclear weapons are estimated to be held in strategic reserve at the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex, less than two miles south of the Albuquerque International Airport. That complex is probably the largest repository of intact nuclear weapons in the country and perhaps the world.Continue reading
Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration's latest Record of Decision (Federal Register, October 4, 2019) for the Continued Operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex , "an obvious attempt by the government to deliberately circumvent this Court's ruling," the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual co-plaintiffs today filed a Motion to Enforce the judgment handed down in federal court in September by Chief United States District Judge Pamela Reeves.
"Within hours of the Judge's September ruling, NNSA told reporters that it would keep right on doing what it was doing, including building the UPF bomb plant. Then they published the new Record of Decision which is a direct challenge to the Court—it says they have decided they will comply with the Court's order at some uncertain date in the future, and in the meantime, it's business as usual. We went to court in the first place, because 'business as usual' was violating the law." — OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison
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There’s one role- and only one role- for nuclear weapons, and that’s deterrence. We cannot, must not, will not ever countenance their actual use. There’s no such thing as limited nuclear war, and for the Pentagon’s advisory board to even suggest such a thing is deeply troubling.
– Senator Diana Feinstein