USA Republican presidential candidates ignore nuclear weapons spending
over 60 percent of the Energy Department’s budget goes to nuclear weapons related spending
Bloated nuclear weapons budget ignored at GOP debate THE HILL, By Kathy Crandall Robinson, Public Policy Director at Women’s Action for New Directions - 11/16/11 U.S. nuclear weapons received decidedly short shrift in Saturday’s Republican Presidential Debates – especially given the billions of dollars spent each year to maintain a vast arsenal and their formerly preeminent role in American power. Which begs the question – why do we continue to pour billions into programs whose role is so clearly diminished?
Over ninety minutes of debate, there was one only question on the topic, aimed at Governor Rick Perry. In an attempt to recover from his previous “oops” moment, Perry confirmed that the Department of Energy (DOE) was number three on the list of federal agencies he’d like to abolish. In his response, however, he indicated that some other government agency could look after the oversight of energy and seemed either unaware or unconcerned about what would happen to the nuclear weapons that are under DOE’s care.
In fact, over 60 percent of the Energy Department’s budget goes to nuclear weapons related spending. This includes programs such as maintaining current U.S. nuclear weapons, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and cleaning up the vast toxic legacy of nuclear weapons production. Maybe all of those activities could be tucked in elsewhere? At any rate, in response to the sole question about our nuclear arsenal, Governor Perry made it clear that little thought had been given to the issue.
Leaving aside Governor Perry, U.S. nuclear weapons might have been more of a topic of discussion in a national security debate. Two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States is projected to spend an extraordinarily large amount of money maintaining the most sophisticated arsenal in the world consisting of approximately 5,000 largely redundant nuclear weapons. In addition to what is spent at the Energy Department, spending on nuclear weapons related activities is spread across other agencies and accounts.
For example, we build and maintain the air, land and sea triad of delivery systems. Then there is missile defense – the thus far unsuccessful program to develop an anti-missile missile, upon which we’ve spent billions.
Additional nuclear related programs like intelligence and terrorism prevention activities are squirreled away in other places. In truth, there is no single comprehensive accounting of what we spend related to nuclear weapons, but after searching available evidence, estimates are that over the next decade it will add up to about $700 billion. Given the nation’s fiscal circumstances, it is time for this budget to receive serious scrutiny.
The most pertinent question however is whether this $700 billion investment is actually enhancing America’s national security for the 21st century and on this score again, it is notable that they received no attention during the Republican debate…..
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