House Hearings Should Reveal Recklessness of Administration’s Nuclear Weapons Budget Request

Statement by Stephen Young, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Feb 27, 2020

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2020)—Today, the House of Representatives will hold two hearings to delve into the Trump administration’s aggressive plans to enhance the U.S. nuclear arsenal. At 2 p.m., the House Appropriation Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee will question Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette about his department’s budget request. At 2:30 p.m., the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the “Strategic Forces Posture” with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, Commander of U.S. Space Command General John Raymond and U.S. Strategic Command Commander Admiral Charles Richard.

Below is a statement by Stephen Young, Washington representative for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The Trump administration is charging ahead with new nuclear weapon systems and joining a new nuclear arms race with Russia. Not only are these weapons pushing up current budgets by billions, but they are unnecessary add-ons to an already bloated, excessively expensive plan to rebuild the entire U.S. arsenal. Coupled with the Trump administration’s disdain for arms control, these new weapons will lead to a more dangerous strategic environment.

“The administration has already pulled out of the INF Treaty with Russia and has not committed to extending New START, the last U.S.-Russian arms control treaty standing. It also deployed a new, more ‘useable’ warhead on U.S. submarines and is planning for a new, nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile.

“The administration’s latest scheme is the W93 nuclear warhead for Navy missiles, even though both existing Navy warheads are in excellent shape, with the W76-1 just completing an upgrade and the W88 now being thoroughly overhauled. Both warheads should be good for decades, so what is the rush to build a new warhead now, particularly when the National Nuclear Security Administration already has so much on its plate?

“According to press reports, President Trump personally signed off on an extra $2 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration after Representative Liz Cheney told him it would mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ if he didn’t. Most of that $2 billion came out of the Pentagon’s budget, and likely at the cost of a Navy Virginia-class attack submarine. Worse yet, that $2 billion will only seem like loose change when the full bill for the entire plan to maintain and replace the U.S. nuclear arsenal comes due, at a likely cost of $2 trillion over the next 30 years.

“These new weapons and excessive spending will not make the United States safer. The world was lucky to survive one global nuclear arms race. We can’t count on luck to save us again. We need saner heads to stop this buildup and reduce the role that nuclear weapons play in U.S. security policy.”