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Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament.

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Friday
Dec232016

Trump Says U.S. Would ‘Outmatch’ Rivals in a New Nuclear Arms Race

The New York Times has reported on Russian President Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump's recent statements effectively announcing a new nuclear arm race between the two countries:

“The statements made by President-elect Trump undermine decades of work the United States and its allies have been involved in to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles and to prevent the additional proliferation of nuclear weapons,” said Byron L. Dorgan, a former senator from North Dakota and a board member at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “A nuclear arms race puts everyone on this planet in greater danger.”

Friday
Dec232016

"Let it be an arms race": Donald Trump Tweet Raises Prospect of New Global Arms Race

As reported by Democracy Now! in its morning headlines:

President-elect Donald Trump raised the prospect of a new global arms race on Thursday, after he suggested on Twitter he would increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Trump’s tweet read, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." At the State Department, the outgoing Obama administration spokesperson John Kirby was asked about the tweet.

John Kirby: "I can’t speak for the president-elect’s nuclear views or his policy going forward. That’s for him and his team to speak to. What I can speak to is the approach that this administration has taken to try to get us on on a path to a world without nuclear weapons."

Despite President Obama’s call for an end to nuclear weapons, his administration has been quietly upgrading its nuclear arsenal to create smaller, more precise nuclear bombs as part of a massive effort that will cost up to $1 trillion over three decades. Speaking to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday, Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, defended the president-elect’s tweet, pointing to President Obama’s nuclear plans.

Kellyanne Conway: "I don’t think the tweet was groundbreaking in this regard. It seems that President Obama himself has invested––has called for an upgrade in our capabilities. I’ve read in one or two articles, up to $1 trillion is the price tag. So, we all—you know, President Obama, President-elect Trump—everyone shares the same, I think, core value, and their first duty is to try to keep us all safe. And we know it’s a dangerous world, and that includes nuclear weapons."

That was Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who Trump named yesterday as counselor to the president. This morning, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski said she spoke briefly to the president-elect on the phone and asked him about his nuclear weapons comments. Brzezinski recounted Trump’s response during a conversation with co-host Joe Scarborough.

Joe Scarborough: "Mika asked the president-elect, while we had the opportunity, what his position was on—trying to clarify the tweet yesterday regarding the nuclear arsenal. And the president-elect told you what?"

Mika Brzezinski: "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass."

Joe Scarborough: "And outlast them all."

Mika Brzezinski: "And outlast them all."

According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, about 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States, which together have about 14,000 warheads stockpiled.

(In the longer segment linked below, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! pointed out "And, yes, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were sitting in their pajamas in front of a fire as they spoke." CommonDreams coverage added "...and slippers," complete with a photo.)

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales then interviewed Greenpeace USA's executive director, Annie Leonard, about Trump's Dr. Strangelovian Tweet and flippan "Let it be an arms race" line, in a segment entitled "Absolutely Frightening: Greenpeace Responds to Trump's Call for a New Nuclear Arms Race."

Greenpeace was founded initially to protest a U.S. nuclear weapons test blast in Amchitka, Alaska, that they feared would generate a deadly tsunami wave. Greenpeace's original name was the "Don't Make a Wave Committee."

Thursday
Dec222016

Senator Markey: Trump Is Wrong About Expanding U.S. Nuclear Capabilities, Will Make World a More Dangerous Place

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts, pictured left) has called on President-elect Donald J. Trump to commit to reducing bloated U.S. nuclear weapons spending and avoid new nuclear arms race with Russia.

See Markey's press release.

See Markey's letter to Trump.

Last week, Senators Markey and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Mr. Donald Trump calling on him to strengthen our system of alliances, including NATO and the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, and long-standing nuclear nonproliferation policies. (emphasis added)

Thursday
Dec222016

BBC: "Donald Trump: US must greatly expand nuclear weapons"

Trump's alarming rhetoric regarding nuclear weapons didn't end on Election Day.

The BBC has just reported, in an article headlined "Donald Trump: U.S. Must Greatly Expand Nuclear Weapons," that the President-elect Tweeted on the morning of Dec. 22:

"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes".

The BBC reported that Trump's Tweet came "hours after President Vladimir Putin said Russia needs to bolster its military nuclear potential."

Politico has also reported on these developments. Its article includes mention of Trump's call, during the campaign, for Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea to be allowed to develop their own nuclear weapons arsenals.

Politico's coverage included the reported language from Putin:

Earlier Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on his country to "strenghten" its nuclear forces.

"We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems," he said, according to multiple news reports.

The BBC's coverage included this figure:

The US has 7,100 nuclear weapons and Russia has 7,300, according to the US nonpartisan Arms Control Association.

This accounts for the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world. Quoted in a Huffington Post article, former U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, put it this way:

“Russia and the U.S. already own over 93 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal ― more than enough to deter the other and destroy humanity. This is a time for both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to come to their senses. Billions of lives are at stake.”

Many hundreds or even thousands of those nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russian arsenals remain on hair-trigger alert, 25 years after the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

The Washington Post's coverage of these developments includes this:

Trump’s suggestion would reverse a long-standing policy under both Republican and Democratic presidents to reduce the number and the role of nuclear weapons, said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms control Association. Russia and before it, the Soviet Union, hold a similar policy.

Since President George H.W. Bush’s administration, it has been U.S. policy not to build new nuclear warheads. Under President Obama, the policy has been not to pursue warheads with new military capabilities.

It has been estimated that modernizing the aging nuclear arsenal will cost $1 trillion over 20 years. Currently, the United States has just under 5,000 warheads in its active arsenal, and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.

“If Donald Trump is concerned about the rising costs of the F-35, he will be shocked by the skyrocketing costs of the current plan to modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Kimball said. “Trump and his people need to explain the basis of his cryptic tweet. What does he mean by expand, and at what cost?”

The Washington Post has run a second article, entitled "Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agree: Let's revive the nuclear arms race."

(See Beyond Nuclear's commentary and analysis of the Trump Transition Team's emerging nuclear weapons policies -- as well as its energy, climate, etc. policies -- in light of a leaked 72-item questionnaire it sent to the U.S. Department of Energy.) 

For some hopeful and welcome relief from Putin's and Trump's fearful and fearsome proposals, check out this moving Counterpunch article by John LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin, "In Sentencing Radical Pacifists, Judge Miles Lord Assailed 'Worship of the Bomb.'"

Wednesday
Dec142016

Senators Markey and Rubio Urge President-elect Trump to Strengthen Commitment to Alliances and Nonproliferation

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)As posted at U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey's website:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Senators call for assurances of commitment to alliance institutions such as NATO, and firm opposition to the spread of nuclear weapons

Washington (December 14, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), members of the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter today to President-elect Donald Trump calling on him to strengthen our system of alliances, including NATO and the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, and long-standing nuclear nonproliferation policies. In the letter, the Senators stress the need to assure allies of America’s commitment to their defense and affirm opposition to the spread of nuclear weapons. By strengthening assurances of military protections to allies such as Japan and South Korea, the United States reduces incentives for allied nations to launch nuclear weapons programs of their own. [emphasis added]

“For more than seventy years, the United States has helped to construct and maintain the institutions of global peace,” write the senators in the letter to President-elect Trump. “Among the most important of these institutions are defensive alliances such as NATO, as well as multilateral treaties comprising the nonproliferation regime. We urge you to affirm that the United States will continue to support these institutions.” 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.