Opinion America desperately needs to modernize its nuclear weapons

23:45  10 august  2017
23:45  10 august  2017 Source:   The Hill

Tillerson: U.S. Willing to Negotiate With North Korea, Won’t Seek Regime Change

  Tillerson: U.S. Willing to Negotiate With North Korea, Won’t Seek Regime Change The U.S., working through China, does not want ‘the collapse of the regime,’ the chief diplomat said.The U.S. is willing to sit down and negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program in coordination with the Chinese government, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday in a rare public appearance a day after President Donald Trump pledged to "handle North Korea.

The Hermit Kingdom is not alone in its nuclear pursuits. Russia and China have also committed to exploring new weapons capabilities, and Iran still harbors nuclear aspirations. In the United States, however, attempts to modernize our nuclear arsenal face tremendous resistance.

DONALD TRUMP is right to increase and modernise America 's nuclear arsenal, a former US Nato representative has said. President Putin said its nuclear forces needed to be bolstered so they could "reliably penetrate any existing and THIS is why Spain desperately NEEDS British tourists.

N. Korea warns it could 'turn the U.S. mainland into the theater of a nuclear war'© Provided by The Hill N. Korea warns it could 'turn the U.S. mainland into the theater of a nuclear war'

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Bad news from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency : North Korea has developed a "miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles."

The Hermit Kingdom is not alone in its nuclear pursuits. Russia and China have also committed to exploring new weapons capabilities, and Iran still harbors nuclear aspirations. In the United States, however, attempts to modernize our nuclear arsenal face tremendous resistance.

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Russia claims it needs theater nuclear weapons to counter NATO’s conventional advantages. Israel expects to win its conventional wars but retains the Foreign Affairs 89, no. 2 (March/April 2010): 145–52; and Lieber and Press, “Obama’s Nuclear Up-grade: The Case for Modernizing America ’s Nukes

China also feels the need to modernize its nuclear forcesÑin order to enhance survivability and maintain a credible min-imum nuclear deterrent. But these are ChinaÕs only objectives for its nuclear weapons . Among the five recognized nuclear weapon states

The scale, scope and capacity of the Russian and Chinese nuclear modernization programs far outstrip current U.S. efforts. Failing to modernize our aging warheads and platforms carries tremendous risk that goes well beyond those posed by not "keeping up with the Joneses."

U.S. nuclear weapons are old. The warheads are based on 1970s designs, and they have not been physically tested in a quarter of a century. The nuclear triad of bombers, submarines, and long-range missiles is long in the tooth, as well. The Minuteman long-range missiles were deployed in the 1970s.

B-52 bombers, introduced in the 1950s, are so old that occasionally a grandson jockeys the same tail number that his grandfather flew. Even our newest systems, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and B-2 bombers, are more than two decades old.

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The United States will spend trillion maintaining and modernizing its nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years, according to a new report from an independent think tank.

The nuclear triad is the bedrock of U.S. strategic deterrence and a core component of U.S. security assurances to over 30 allies around the world. It must be modernized - regardless of the fate of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty , also known as New START. The centerpiece of the Obama administration's failed Russian "reset" policy, New START has not served the strategic security interests of the United States.

It called for - and delivered - disproportionate reductions to the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. Moreover, the Russians have flagrantly violated the spirit of the treaty, deploying more than 200 nuclear warheads more than the treaty permits. (Nothing new there. Russia is also violating several other arms control agreements, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty .)

Former officials of the Obama administration, who had a hand in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review , now recognize that the strategic environment has become significantly more dangerous since that review was concluded. The review was based on two questionable assumptions: that Russia was no longer a threat and that Russia (or any other country, for that matter) would not be a major adversary in the future.

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The United States has not updated its nuclear weapons program in decades, but in February President Barack Obama allocated more than trillion to the modernization of the country's nuclear stockpile.

Then he said this about the country’s nuclear stockpiles: "We are the only nation that is not modernizing its nuclear weapons ." We wanted to know whether Rubio was correct that

But much has changed since those calculations were made. Russia, for example, has annexed Crimea, sent troops into Ukraine and propped up Bashar Assad in Syria. China has become more aggressive and belligerent in the South China Sea. And then there's North Korea. No one can know the future, of course. International developments have a way of taking the United States by surprise. And this unpredictability is precisely why the U.S. must maintain a credible, viable and robust nuclear deterrent.

Modernization is essential because the determined efforts of Russia, China and even North Korea leave the United States at risk of losing its competitive edge and thus its strategic deterrent. Both Moscow and Beijing reportedly include nuclear warhead testing as components of their modernization programs. And both are likely pursuing innovative design and development work to create warheads capable of generating special effects, such as enhanced radiation or electromagnetic pulse.  Robust modernization programs also mean that their warhead workforce and production facilities remain skilled, capable and agile.

Here's How Many Nuclear Weapons the U.S. Has

  Here's How Many Nuclear Weapons the U.S. Has North Korea on Wednesday threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, the latest in a series of mutual provocations as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate. That development came after President Donald Trump said Tuesday that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues its aggressive behavior. Trump followed up on Wednesday in a series of tweets boasting about the U.S. nuclear arsenal. “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” he tweeted. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!” Here’s what you need to know about the size and reach of the American nuclear arsenal. How Many Nuclear Weapons Does the U.S.

This nuclear weapons modernization program includes both a warhead refurbishment program and a modernized production complex The panel concluded in its September 2009 report that “Lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence.”

But Washington is far from alone in modernizing its nuclear weapons . If nuclear forces are reduced in numerical terms, the need emerges to enhance the effi-ciency and survivability of remaining forces.

This is another area where the United States risks falling behind.  U.S. scientists and nuclear engineers primarily focus their work (and thinking) on warhead maintenance and life extension programs - a different set of skills than actually designing and building new warheads. The former attempts to sustain what is already known, while the latter explores new possibilities and leads to new designs and potential uses - critical things to know if only to know what to defend against.

At present, the U.S. national laboratories are doing little to improve their understanding of foreign nuclear weapon designs. Those limited efforts should be expanded. Not only would it educate the current and upcoming generation of nuclear weapon designers, it would help ensure that the next generation tasked to certify our nuclear stockpile reliable has the experience and know-how of designing, building and testing actual warheads.

It made no sense for the French, British and Americans to remain committed to horse cavalry while the Germans were developing mobile tank warfare. So, today, it makes no sense for the U.S. to remain committed to merely certifying vintage nuclear weapons while our competitors race forward with new research and development efforts.

U.S. nuclear weapons policy must evolve as the nuclear threat evolves. Making changes to the U.S. nuclear posture as the threat environment grows more challenging will ultimately put the United States and its allies in a better strategic position. Congress and the Trump administration must not waver in their support for the U.S. nuclear modernization program.

Michaela Dodge is a senior policy analyst specializing in missile defense and arms control in the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation .

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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