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USA’s $30 billion new cruise nuclear missile makes no sense financially or strategically

bomb B61-12A Nuclear Weapon the U.S. Doesn’t Need, Bloomberg View  FEB 1, 2016   By 

 For a president who famously advocated for a world without nuclear weapons, Barack Obama has done a lot to keep the U.S. nuclear arsenal intact. That’s not a criticism — it was his promise that was naive, not his policy — but in one respect, his strategy is unnecessarily destabilizing.

The administration’s proposal to spend up to $30 billion to create a new nuclear cruise missile meant to be carried by the aging B-52 bomber makes no sense
. . Cruise missiles, which are smaller than land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and fly farther than tactical bombs dropped by planes, are the wild card of the nuclear arsenal: Unlike ICBMs, they are very hard to spot by radar or satellite, and, even if detected, they’re indistinguishable from conventionally armed cruise missiles.

This is a problem because a successful deterrence strategy requires that both sides in a potential nuclear conflict have a pretty good idea of what the other would do. Three years ago, the U.K. decided not to develop a submarine-based nuclear-tipped cruise missile because it carries too great a risk of “miscalculation and unintended escalation.”…….

Today, with Russia a much-diminished nuclear threat and China little interested in challenging U.S. nuclear superiority, the need to overwhelm either nation’s air defenses is less of a priority. Meanwhile, lesser potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea have limited capability to protect their airspace. And technological advances have made the nuclear submarine fleet vastly more capable of penetrating enemy anti-missile defenses.

So why the push for the new cruise weapon? In part, it’s the natural inclination of the military to trade up……

plans to upgrade the nuclear cruise missile would not make the U.S., or the world, any safer.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley atdavidshipley@bloomberg.net


February 3, 2016 - Posted by | general

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