News Analysis: Officials Air Views on Key Stockpile Issue

By Tom Z. Collina and Daniel Horner

As the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) moves toward completion in the coming months, the Obama administration is grappling with a major question about the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Given the stated need to maintain the arsenal for the foreseeable future, can the United States reliably maintain existing warhead designs, or will the country eventually need new ones?

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1 comment:

Marko said...

The author's claim that RRW or something like it is not "about developing weapons with new military capabilities". This is simply asserted without any supporting evidence. Notice that this is the most important sentence in the article for it sets up the subsequent discussion.

There exists plenty of empirical evidence suggesting otherwise. For instance, one need consider the Younger report on "nuclear weapons in the 21st century". The military rationale for RRW type programs appeared in the Bush era Nuclear Posture Review. It's there in very simple black and white. In fact, it is stated pretty explicitly in the US nuclear weapons stockpile transformation chart.

Moreover, the whole article is nonsensical even on its own terms. For it is stated at the end that, "For now, it appears that independent weapons scientists have more confidence in existing, well-tested designs than new, untested ones." If the issue is all about reliability and the above obtains then how does this push, and the use of dodgy claims like the vacuum tubes allegations to support it, at all make sense?

It makes sense because the Pentagon and the weapons complex are interested in developing nuclear warheads for weapons systems with new military capabilities. This is for what it calls "21st century deterrence".

In fact, reliability has got nothing to do with deterrence. If the purpose of nuclear weapons are to deter a first strike, rather than for counterforce first strikes, then super high reliability is only of interest for those interested in making counterforce based damage expectancy calculations. Even this in itself shows that Obama is not sincere about deep cuts let alone going to zero.

The authors of this article simply do not understand the issues; this errant nonsense hardly constitutes "news analysis."

I submit it is propaganda for Obama. A bit like when Arms Control Today told us that Clinton's PDD60 didn't cut against negative security assurances.