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Modernising America’s nuclear weapons: next President will face $1 trillion price tag

missile-moneyThe $1 trillion price tag of modernizing America’s nuclear weapons falls to the next president, Business Insider Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters   “………..-budget constraints almost certainly will force the next president to decide whether and how quickly to proceed with the Obama administration’s plans to maintain and modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

Crunch time

The crunch comes in the next decade as American ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles – the three legs of the nuclear triad – reach the end of their useful lives.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the total cost of nuclear forces through 2024 at $348 billion, but that does not include some of the costliest upgrades, scheduled for the latter half of the next decade. Independent estimates have put the cost of maintaining and modernizing the arsenal at about $1 trillion over 30 years.

“There’s a bipartisan commitment to doing that upgrade, so we have to assume those funds will come through,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Reuters on Sept. 20. “But it will be a significant budget increase, especially in the next decade.”

The Energy Department shares responsibility with the Pentagon for the nuclear arsenal, and some of its research and production facilities are 73 years old.

The next administration could abandon or delay some aspects of modernization to cut costs. Or it could raise taxes, increase the budget deficit, or cut domestic programs, all unpopular steps with American voters.

The most vulnerable elements of the modernization plans are a long-range standoff weapon, or LRSO – a nuclear-capable cruise missile launched from an aircraft – and new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Ten US senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on President Barack Obama in July to cancel the LRSO, saying it “would provide an unnecessary capability that could increase the risk of nuclear war.”

Some Pentagon officials and defense experts have said the cruise missile would be a hedge against improved air defenses that are difficult for even a stealthy bomber to penetrate……..


September 28, 2016 - Posted by | USA elections 2016

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