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The Biden- Harris administration can change nuclear weapons policy, make it safer, and much cheaper

Whatever you think ails this nation, a new generation of ICBMs is not the answer, WP,  by Tom Collina and William Perry, November 18, 2020   Tom Z. Collina is director of policy at Ploughshares Fund. William J. Perry was secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997. They are co-authors of the book “The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump.”

The incoming Biden-Harris administration will face unprecedented challenges, from the coronavirus pandemic to systemic racial injustice to global warming. It will take mountains of money to tackle these crises, and we will need each dollar.

Are any of these challenges addressed by nuclear weapons? Clearly not. Yet the United States is planning to spend well over $1 trillion to rebuild its nuclear arsenal, complete with a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Whatever you think ails this nation, a new generation of ICBMs is not the answer. But the good news on nuclear policy is that less is more: The country can save money and become more secure at the same time. The Biden-Harris team can and should redirect a large chunk of this nuclear funding to address more pressing needs…………..

The United States can move to a smaller but more secure second-strike nuclear force whose sole purpose is to deter nuclear attack. We do not need to spend hundreds of billions more in a dangerous and futile attempt to “prevail” in a nuclear conflict.

The Biden-Harris campaign has rightly stated that “the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring — and if necessary, retaliating against — a nuclear attack. As president, [Biden] will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our allies and military.”

The best policy would specifically rule out preemptive nuclear attacks, as such attacks have a high risk of starting nuclear war by mistake, and should not be considered under any circumstances. Similarly, a sole-purpose policy should prohibit launching nuclear weapons on warning of attack, as such launches increase the risk of starting nuclear war in response to a false alarm.

The Biden-Harris administration can make a sole-purpose policy more credible and further reduce the risk of accidental launch by retiring the ICBMs. ICBMs are most likely to be used first in response to a false alarm. They are highly unlikely to ever be used in retaliation, as most would be destroyed in any (highly unlikely) Russian nuclear attack against the United States. Thus, ICBMs have no logical role in a U.S. sole-purpose, deterrence-only policy.

This transformational nuclear policy would be win-win: It would free up federal resources to address more urgent needs and, at the same time, reduce nuclear dangers to the nation. In this time of crisis, change and opportunity, our government must have the courage to spend our federal dollars where they are needed most. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/17/how-biden-administration-could-create-win-win-situation-nuclear-policy/

November 19, 2020 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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