Nuclear Weapons Complex Misconduct
Dec. 3, 2015. POGO: Updated Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, focussing on Nuclear Complex
(see report at POGO)
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.
Nuclear Warheads: Exploding Costs 1985-2013 Chart provided by Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar for Nuclear Policy at the Institute for Policy Studies. (See full bio).
Hypersonic Bombers? Above: Boeing X-51 WaveRider
Mobile Missiles, Hypersonic Bombers
The Air Force has dusted off plans more than two decades old to place fixed nuclear missiles on rail cars or massive road vehicles to protect them from a surprise attack.
The service also wants to explore alternatives to traditional missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which could include hypersonic aircraft capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an hour, said Phillip Coyle of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a former associate director for national security and international affairs in the Obama administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Coyle said that if the Air Force decides to pursue hypersonic aircraft to deliver nuclear warheads, this could confuse nuclear armed countries such as Russia, which would not be able to determine if supersonic aircraft traveling at 4,000 miles per hour were carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, and potentially react with a nuclear strike. (NextGov report) / (US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Announcement-PDF) (See also: Army Tests Advanced Hypersonic Weapon)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Grills SecDef Ash Carter
On dangers of US-Russian collision in Syria going nuclear;
during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Dec 2, 2015
TG: Approx how many nuclear warheads does Russia have aimed at the US, and how many does the US have aimed at Russia?
AC: Uh, Congresswoman, we'll get you those precise numbers as best we know them... Let me just summarize it by the fact that I'm confident we have a strong, safe, secure and reliable deterrent, but it's also true that Russia, like the Soviet Union that precedes it, has a massive nuclear arsenal.*
TG: And it would be accurate to say that both our of countries have the capacity to launch these nuclear weapons within minutes.
AC: We do.
*Note the Secretary's choice of words: The US has "a safe and reliable deterrent", while Russia has "a massive nuclear arsenal".
Current nuclear stockpiles- for country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at Ploughshares.org.
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
"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.
Question: When does the parallel modernization of opposing nuclear forces become a new arms race? Answer: It already has.
March 4, 2017: How US Nuclear Force Modernization is Undermining Strategic Stability:
The Burst-Height Compensating Super-Fuze By Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, Theodore A. Postol
"The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing- boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three- and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.
Click image to enlarge
"The revolutionary increase in the lethality of submarine-borne US nuclear forces comes from a 'super-fuze' device that since 2009 has been incorporated into the Navy's W76-1/Mk4A warhead as part of a decade-long life-extension program. We estimate that all warheads deployed on US ballistic missile submarines now have this fuzing capability. Because the innovations in the super-fuze appear, to the non-technical eye, to be minor, policymakers outside of the US government (and probably inside the government as well) have completely missed its revolutionary impact on military capabilities and its important implications for global security...
"The W76 upgrade reflects a 25-year shift of the focus of US hard-target kill capability from land-based to sea-based ballistic missiles. Moreover, by shifting the capability to submarines that can move to missile launch positions much closer to their targets than land-based missiles, the US military has achieved a significantly greater capacity to conduct a surprise first strike against Russian ICBM silos.
"... In spite of its severe limitations, this growing defense system could appear to both Russia and China as a US attempt to reduce the consequences of a ragged Russian or Chinese retaliation to a US first strike against them.
"We cannot foresee a situation in which a competent and properly informed US president would order a surprise first strike against Russia or China. But our conclusion makes the increased sea-based offensive and defensive capabilities we have described seem all the more bizarre as a strategy for reducing the chances of nuclear war with either Russia or China..."
(Read more, w/ detailed graphs and charts, at The Bulletin)
"Both Russia and the United States are now officially and publicly using the other side as a justification for nuclear weapons modernization programs" - Hans Kristensen, The Intercept, 2/23/16
Former Secretary of Defense Perry: "On the Brink of a New Nuclear Arms Race"
"We're now at the precipice, maybe I should say the brink, of a new nuclear arms race. This arms race will be at least as expensive as the arms race we had during the Cold War..."
Perry was speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Defense Writer's Group on December 3rd.
"Today, probably I would not have said this 10 years ago, but today we now face the kind of dangers of a nuclear event like we had during the Cold War, an accidental war."
Re Russia: "'If you look over a 20-year period and put the scoreboard together, there are at least as many American mistakes as there were Russian.' He cited the expansion of NATO and the decision to send U.S.-led NATO forces to Bosnia in 1996 as the start of the downfall of U.S.-Russia relations. Perry also criticized the United States and NATO program to install 'Aegis-ashore' ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in Romania and Poland (which sparked some of Moscow's recent nuclear saber rattling). 'There is literally no justification for it. The reasons they give for it don't stand up.'"
Perry reiterated his opposition to the Air Force's plans to modernize the ICBM force and to field 1000 new air launched cruise missiles, calling both "uniquely destabilizing". (Perry supports modernization of the other two legs of the triad: replacement of the Ohio class strategic submarines and the long-range strategic bomber force.)
(More at DefenseNews.com)
"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. (see: Obama Is About to Launch a New Nuclear Arms Race. There's a Better Way.)
December 11, 2015: America's Modernized Nuclear Arms Roil Diplomatic Waters
B61-12: "What they're doing is taking a dumb bomb and turning it into a smart bomb and claiming that it's not a new military capability," said Jay Coghlan, executive director at Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
"In non-proliferation terms, the only thing worse than a useless bomb is a 'usable' bomb." -Julian Borger, Guardian
(read the full report at McClatchy/Irradiated).
Dec. 11, 2015: DOE's Disinformation Undercuts US Credibility, Nonproliferation Efforts
"On October 27, 2015 a delegation of international visitors including diplomats from Austria, Finland, Jordan, Nigeria, Poland, Singapore, and Sweden, and a NATO representative visited Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico. They were participating in the second Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Transparency Visit hosted by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration that oversees and funds the national labs.
"According to Sandia's public website the international visitors were concerned that U.S. nuclear weapons 'modernization' programs are willfully making nuclear weapons more usable and more likely to be used. According to Sandia one of the goals of the visit was to correct this misperception.
"The problem is that there is no misperception."
(read more at The Hill) James Doyle serves on the Nuclear Watch steering committee
The Hypersonic Arms Race Is Going Nuclear Dec. 4, 2015: "A new type of high-speed arms race is heating up between the U.S., Russia and China -- and it's threatening to go nuclear... Washington, Moscow and Beijing ought to call a timeout on hypersonic glide vehicle testing and start talking frankly about the risks of the hypersonic arms race going nuclear." -Yousaf Butt, nuclear physicist, senior advisor to the British American Security Information Council: (story)
November 23, 2015: A New Arms Race Threatens to Bring U.S. and Russia Back to the Nuclear Brink
Joe Cirincione, author, Nuclear Nightmares.
"The Russians are building new nuclear-armed missiles, bombers, and submarines to replace those built in the 1980s and now reaching the end of their operational lives. They claim that they must modernize their arsenal and increase the role of nuclear weapons in their military doctrine to counter U.S. missile interceptors being deployed in Europe. These, they say, could "neutralize" their nuclear deterrent, allowing the U.S. and NATO to dominate Russia.
"Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to deploy almost 200 new nuclear bombs in Europe. More accurate than the current bombs, proponents argue the B61-12s are more usable in battles. The U.S. Navy is developing 12 new submarines to prowl the world's oceans, carrying over 1,000 warheads on missiles that can hit any spot on earth. The U.S. Air Force is developing a new strategic bomber and wants 1,000 new cruise missiles to go with it, plus a new fleet of almost 650 intercontinental ballistic missiles..." (more at WorldPost)
June 3, 2015, The Hill: Nuclear weapons: The "All Of The Above" Strategy
"This week, the Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of the annual defense authorization bill. In a move detached from budgetary reality, the bill backs an unaffordable plan to modernize or replace nearly every aspect of the United States' oversized nuclear arsenal. It is an 'all of the above' strategy that avoids any of the hard, but necessary, strategic choices...
"The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 (NDAA) passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee includes a long wish list of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The current plan is to design and build 12 new nuclear missile submarines, as many as 100 new nuclear-capable bombers, as many as 1,100 new nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and to modernize around 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles and the various nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. In addition, the Committee requires the modernization and replacement of forward-deployed nuclear weapons, dual capable fighter-bomber aircraft and perhaps the development of intermediate range nuclear weapons.
"The Pentagon itself is concerned about the affordability of this plan. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's Undersecretary of Acquisitions, characterized the nuclear modernization plans as 'unaffordable.'"
(Read John Isaacs and Greg Terryn's report at The Hill)
April, 2015, NPT RevCon 2015: Worldwide Nuclear Weapon Modernization Programs
Hans M. Kristensen Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists
Presentation to Side Event on Nuclear Weapon Modernizations Organized by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability April 28 (see below).
40 pages (slides) (View/download PDF)
April 28, NPT RevCon 2015: The "Modernization" of Nuclear Weapons and the Disarmament We Seek
- 1st Panel at 3 PM: Global "Modernization" of Nuclear Weapons & Bomb Plants
With Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists; Natalia Mironova, former legislator, Movement for Nuclear Safety, Russia; Jean-Marie Collin, French Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament; Dave Webb, CND, UK; Wilbert van der Zeijden, PAX, Netherlands; moderated by Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, USA.
- 2nd Panel at 4:30 PM: U.S. "Modernization" of Nuclear Weapons & Bomb Plants
With Matthew McKinzie, Natural Resources Defense Council; Ralph Hutchison, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance; Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore; Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico; James Doyle, nuclear security and nonproliferation specialist, formerly at Los
Alamos National Laboratory; moderated by Rick Wayman, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
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."
A mock B61-12 bomb on display at National Lab Day in Washington, DC, in October. Courtesy NNSA, DoE / Flickr
August 6, 2014: B61 Bomb Upgrades- Important Report
The Cost of Teaching an Old Nuclear Weapon New Tricks
Jon Letman, Truthout
"Despite President Obama's 2009 speech in Prague in which he stated 'clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,' the United States plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on its own nuclear weapons upgrades, modernization and 'life extension programs' (LEP).
"First built in 1963, the B61 has been called "the bread and butter" of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The bomb's newest incarnation, B61-12, will be a variable-yield, precision-guided version of one of the most numerous bombs in the US arsenal.
"Excluding submarine-based missiles, the B61 is the only US nuclear weapon deployed outside of the United States today. The United States has around 180 B61s at six bases in five NATO countries - Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. These nuclear weapons are part of what many call the 'glue' that holds NATO together.
"Who stands to benefit from life extension programs, stockpile stewardship and other modifications to America's nuclear arsenal?
"The Life Extension Programs are critical for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which receives around $7 billion a year for maintaining and enhancing nuclear weapons and infrastructure.
"Also poised to benefit are the nuclear weapons laboratories, specifically Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin) and Los Alamos National Laboratories, which are overseeing the design, manufacture and testing of B61-12.
"William Hartung says that the nuclear laboratories have a perennial quest for new ideas and angles for nuclear weapons. He calls it an 'employment program for nuclear scientists.'"
"Major military defense contractors like Bechtel and Boeing reap great benefits from nuclear upgrades. Hartung says Lockheed Martin 'gets two bites at the apple' because it also designs and builds the F-35A Lightning fighter bomber, which will be fitted to carry the B61-12, as will the F-15E (McDonnell Douglas), F-16 (General Dynamics), B-2A (Northrop Grumman), B-52H (Boeing), Tornado (Panavia Aircraft) and future long-range striker bombers."
"A serious lack of understanding of nuclear weapons extends to Congress, says FAS's Kristensen. 'I can tell you from first-hand experience that the number of staffers and . . . members of Congress today that have any clue what this is about is a very, very small group, and it is shrinking.'"
(read Jon Letman's report)
B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration On NATO Aircraft To Start In 2015
The US Air Force budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 shows that integration of the B61-12 on NATO F-16 and Tornado aircraft will start in 2015 for completion in 2017 and 2018.
(Left: NATO Tornado and F-16 aircraft, 2008, Ghedi Torre nuclear base, Italy, for the Steadfast Noon nuclear strike exercise. Image: EUCOM.) more: Hans Kristensen, FAS Security Blog
Excerpts from an important piece by Hans Kristensen of the FAS: General Confirms Enhanced Targeting Capabilities of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb
"The former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, confirmed last week that the B61-12 nuclear bomb planned by the Obama administration will have improved military capabilities to attack targets with greater accuracy and less radioactive fallout. The confirmation is important because the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) pledged that nuclear warhead 'Life Extension Programs' will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities. In addition to violating the NPR pledge, enhancing the nuclear capability contradicts U.S. and NATO goals of reducing the role of nuclear weapons and could undermine efforts to persuade Russia to reduce its non-strategic nuclear weapons posture.
"Increasing the accuracy broadens the type of targets that the B61 can be used to attack. The effect is most profound against underground targets that require ground burst and cratering to be damaged by the shock wave.
"General Schwartz's confirmation came during a conference organized by the Stimson Center in response to a question from Steven Young whether the relatively low yield and increased accuracy of the B61-12 in terms of targeting planning would change the way the military thinks about how to use the weapon. General Schwartz's answer was both clear and blunt: 'Without a doubt. Improved accuracy and lower yield is a desired military capability. Without question.' When asked whether that would result in a different target set or just make the existing weapon better, General Schwartz said: 'It would have both effects.'
Read the full report and more on the B61 here.
August 1, 2016: Op-Ed- It's Time to Ditch the ICBM, America's Thermonuclear Dinosaur
"In the face of an uncertain and ballooning program cost, the real question we should be asking is- why aren't we just retiring the ICBM part of the arsenal? ICBMs are an anachronism, a thermonuclear dinosaur, and have been for a long time. The strategy for their use is a relic of the Cold War, they do nothing to counter the real threats we face today and they can easily stand to be eliminated from the U.S. nuclear arsenal." (more)
August 1, 2016: Air Force Issues RFPs for New Nuclear Cruise Missile (LRSO)
and New ICBM (GBSD)
"The Air Force moved ahead with two critical nuclear modernization programs on Friday, releasing requests for proposals for its intercontinental ballistic missile replacement and a nuclear cruise missile.
The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which replaces the 1960s-era Minutemen III ICBM, and the Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon, which will supersede the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile, are seen by the service as pivotal for maintaining the nuclear triad and an effective strategic deterrent.." (more)
August 1, 2016: NNSA Greenlights B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Production Engineering Phase
"The decision marks the final development phase prior to actual production. The NNSA says the first production unit of the weapon is planned for fiscal year 2020..." (more)
Worldwide Nuclear Weapon Modernization Programs
Extensive report by Hans Kristensen, director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists, presented at ANA conference at the UN April 28, 2015. View/download PDF.
Modernizing nuclear arsenals: Whether and how
9-part 2015 roundtable on the modernization of nuclear arsenals at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
("Modernizing..." at the Bulletin)
Alliance for Nuclear Acountability's Marylia Kelley on Democracy Now, April 13
With Amy Goodman to discuss ANA's just-released report on the sweeping modernization planned for our nuclear forces, titled "The Trillion-Dollar Train Wreck".
(full transcript here)
"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.
"The unfortunate truth of the US nuclear weapon 'modernization' is that it clearly demonstrates that the United States plans to build more and 'better' nuclear weapons for at least the next 30 to 50 years."
- James Doyle (ref)
Click to enlarge
"Any effort to disrupt this critical program can jeopardize national security. It is vital this program moves forward without delay." AmericasNewBomber.com This is the entrance screen at a site put up by Northrup-Grumman after its success in winning the contract for the next strategic bomber force met a legal challenge from Lockheed.
Long-range-standoff bomber update Shrouded in Mystery, New Bomber Makes Waves
"The program is targeting a production line of 80-100 planes. It will replace the fleet of B-52 and B-1 bombers. It will be stealthy, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and optional manning has been discussed. A down-selection will be made this spring or early summer, with initial operating capability planned for the mid-2020s. Nuclear certification will follow two years after that.
"The target price, set by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is $550 million a copy. To keep the price down, the Air Force is looking to use mature technologies that are available now, rather than launching new developments... " (Defense News, Jan 19, 2015)
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)
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
"Too many of us have become complacent about the ongoing dangers posed by the staggering power of nuclear weapons.
The fact is the world today is facing a new and potentially more dangerous nuclear era. All of us must demand greater attention to this threat from our leaders." -Ted Turner (ref)
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.