Obama Pledges $11 Billion to Upgrade U.S. Nuclear Weapons
The Obama administration is planning a multi-billion-dollar upgrade for U.S. nuclear bombs currently stored in several European countries, prompting concerns from peace activists.
The weapons slated for improvements are B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey. About 200 of the bombs would also be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers, according to one nuclear weapons expert.
“This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe,” Hans Kristensen, director of The Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told The Guardian. “It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons.”
The cost of the upgrade will be about $11 billion. Most of the money will go towards extending the life of the weapons, while a mere $1 billion will cover adding the new controllable tail fins. Kristensen said the new tails could result in the B61 becoming a more “useable” weapon.
“What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb,” he added. “Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield. That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more ‘usable.’”
Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, suggested to The Guardian that the multi-billion-dollar upgrade was nothing more than an expensive way to satisfy senators who want jobs in their states. “This is billions of dollars spent on a weapon whose mission evaporated at the end of the cold war,” he said. “It’s clearly aimed at buying senators’ votes.”
To Learn More:
Obama Accused Of Nuclear U-Turn As Guided Weapons Plan Emerges (by Julian Borger, The Guardian)
US Tactical Nuclear Weapons In Europe, 2011 (by Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)
Upgrading U.S.’s 5,000 Nuclear Warheads Could Cost Hundreds of Billions of Dollars (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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