Research: Commentary

Rethinking America's Nukes

New York Times, November 30, 2014 | Letter

By William D. Hartung

Mr. Colby’s plea for more funding for the American nuclear arsenal is unpersuasive. If the nuclear enterprise has management problems, by all means fix them. But maintaining an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons while building a new generation of nuclear bombers, subs and land-based missiles is unnecessary and not affordable.

Studies by professors at the Naval War College and the Air War College have suggested that the United States could deter any other nation from attacking us with nuclear weapons with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear warheads. Our current arsenal of deployed and nondeployed nuclear warheads is approximately 4,600. And a report by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimates that current Pentagon plans for sustaining and modernizing the arsenal could cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Doing so would be a colossal waste of scarce resources.

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