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Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
U.S. Nuclear Policy & Budget

Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

April 2019

Contact: Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, 202-463-8270 x104

Updated: April 2019

On April 8, 2010, Russia and the United States signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty requires both sides to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 and fielded delivery platforms to 700. The treaty also permits the United States and Russia to conduct 18 annual on-site inspections of facilities operated by the other country. Biannual data exchanges indicate the current state of their strategic forces.

As of March 2019, Russia had 524 deployed strategic delivery systems and 1,461 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, and 760 deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers. Russia is in the process of both retiring many of its older strategic systems and replacing them with new systems.

For a factsheet on U.S. nuclear forces, click here.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)

The following tables are based on public source data given that Russia does not release official statistics for specific New START accountable delivery systems.

Missile system

Number of systems

Warheads Total warheads

Deployment

R-36M2 (SS-18)

46

10

460

Dombarovsky, Uzhur

UR-100NUTTH (SS-19)

30

0

0

Kozelsk, Tatishchevo

Topol (SS-25)

36

1

36

Yoshkar-Ola, Nizhniy Tagil, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul, Vypolzovo

Topol-M silo (SS-27)

60

1

60

Tatishchevo

Topol-M mobile (SS-27)

18

1

18

Teykovo

RS-24 mobile

84

4

336

Teykovo

RS-24 silo

12

4

48

Kozelsk

Total

286

 

958

 

All tables are from http://russianforces.org.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and Submarines

Submarines

As of early 2017, the Navy had 12 functional strategic submarines of three different types, 11 of which are functional and one is being overhauled. They are deployed with the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. Bases of the Northern Fleet host six 667BDRM (Delta IV) submarines. The Delta IVs are undergoing overhaul in which they are being equipped with new missiles. The Pacific Fleet base hosts three 667BDR (Delta III) submarines but these are being withdrawn from service. Project 955 (also known as Borey or Yuri Dolgorukiy) is the newest class of submarines. Construction began in 1996 and the first joined the Northern Fleet in 2013, though subsequent submarines of this class will join the Pacific Fleet. As of January 2016, three Project 955 submarines have been accepted into service. When the missiles on Project 941 (Typhoon) class submarines reached the end of their service lives, these submarines were withdrawn from service. The one exception is the lead ship of the class, TK-208 Dmitry Donskoy, which was refitted for the new missile system, R-30 Bulava, which is designed for deployment on the Borev-class nuclear submarines The Borey class submarines are expected to constitute the core of the Russian strategic submarine fleet, replacing the aging Project 941 and Project 667 boats. Russia is planning to build eight Borey and Borey-A class subs by 2020.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles

RIA News reported, in June 2012, that the Bulava sea-based ballistic missile had entered service. The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM, developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, carries up to 6 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). Borey class strategic submarines will carry up to 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each with multiple warheads.

Strategic submarines

Number of submarines

Number of SLBMs and their type

Warheads

Total warheads

Project  667BDR (Delta III)

3*

32 R-29R (SS-N-18)

3

96

Project  667BDRM (Delta IV)

6*

96 R-29RM (SS-N-23)

4

384

Project 941 (Typhoon)

1**

- - -

- - - 

- - -

Project 955 (Borey)

3

48 R-30 Bulava

6

288

Total

12

160

 

768

[a] One submarine is undergoing overhaul and those missiles are not counted.
[b] One submarine of the Project 941 type has been refitted as a test bed for the Bulava missile system. It is not counted in the total number of operational submarines.

Strategic bombers

Russian Long-range Aviation Command consists of six divisions, two of which are the heavy-bomber divisions made up of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft. As of early 2017, the Command is estimated to have 66 strategic bombers. The bombers can carry various modifications of the Kh-55 (AS-15) cruise missile and gravity bombs.

Bomber

Number of bombers

Number of cruise missiles and their type

Total cruise missiles

Tu-95MS (Bear H)

55

Up to 16 Kh-55 (AS-15A)

No estimates available

Tu-160 (Blackjack)

11

12 Kh-55SM (AS-15B)

No estimates available

Total

66

 

~200

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Country Resources:

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

April 2019

Contact:  Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: April 2019

See Table 1: U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

    On April 8, 2010, Russia and the United States signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty requires the sides to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 and fielded delivery platforms to 700. The treaty also permits the United States and Russia to conduct 18 annual on-site inspections of facilities operated by the other country. Biannual data exchanges indicate the current state of their strategic forces. For a factsheet on Russian nuclear forces, click here.

    Both the United States and Russia met these limits by the February 2018 deadline, and the limits will hold until February 2021. The United States declared that it had met its New START limits on Feb. 5. As of March 2019, the United States has 656 deployed strategic delivery systems, 1,365 deployed strategic warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers.

    Under New START, the United States retains a deployed strategic force of up to 400 ICBMs, 60 nuclear-capable bombers, and 240 SLBMs.

    •  As of February 2018, the United States deploys 400 Minuteman III ICBMs, all with a single warhead, and an additional 54 non-deployed silo launchers of ICBMs that remain in a warm, operational status.

    •  Some bombers were converted to conventional-only missions (not accountable under New START), and 49 nuclear-capable bombers were deployed as of February 2018. Bombers are not on alert or loaded with weapons in peacetime, and New START counting rules allow each bomber to be counted as “one” deployed warhead, even though bombers can carry up to 16-20 nuclear weapons.

    •  The United States retains all 14 of its strategic nuclear submarines (SSBNs), although it reduced the number of SLBM launch tubes per SSBN from 24 to 20, for a total of 280 tubes across the entire fleet. Between two and four submarines are in dry dock at any given time. The United States deployed 203 submarine-launched ballistic missiles as of February 2018

    In addition to the treaty limit of 700 deployed systems, the treaty allows for 800 deployed and non-deployed missile launchers, and bombers. The United States retains around 454 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, up to 280 deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and up to 66 deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers.

    The strategic forces that remain under the treaty are currently being upgraded or replaced. Over the 30 years, the administration plans to invest an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear delivery systems. For more on U.S. nuclear modernization, see U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs.

    Under New START, both sides release aggregate data on their stockpiles every six months. 

     

    Table 1: Deployed U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START 

    This table shows how the deployed U.S. strategic nuclear stockpile in 2017 and in 2018, when reductions under New START were completed.

    All figures are from official sources except for shaded warhead numbers, which are best estimates. New START counts each bomber as one warhead, even though bombers can carry many more.

     20172018
     

    Delivery Vehicles

    Est. Warheads

    Delivery Vehicles

    Est. Warheads

    ICBMs

    Minuteman III

    399 
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    N/A

    400  

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    400

    SLBMs

    Trident II D5

    212
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    N/A

    203

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    901

    Strategic Bombers

    B-52H

    38
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    49

    36

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    49

    B-2A

    11
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    13 

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    Total Deployed

    660
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    1,393
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    659

    (as of Sept. 2018)

    1,398

    (as of Sept. 2018)

    Strategic Arms Control and Policy

    Country Resources:

    Republican Senators Back New START


    October 2018
    By Kingston Reif

    Several Republican senators are expressing support for extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) amid signals that the Trump administration may choose not to renew the pact.

    A C-SPAN screen grab shows David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, and Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testifying September 18 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Although it expires in February 2021, the treaty can be extended up to five years by agreement of the U.S. and Russian presidents without requiring further action by Congress or the Duma. Its expiration, without a replacement, would end treaty restrictions limiting the number of deployed strategic warheads on each side to a maximum of 1,550, a target each met this year and that is far below the tens of thousands deployed during the Cold War. (See ACT, March 2018.)

    “We ought to be a little bit more pro-continuing the benefits the [New] START treaty gives us rather than getting the idea there might be some way we get out of it,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) Sept. 18 at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S.-Russian arms control efforts.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed interest in extending the treaty, which was ratified in 2011, although Russia has raised concerns about some of the procedures the United States has used to remove nuclear weapons launchers from accountability under the agreement.

    The Trump administration has yet to formulate the U.S. position. John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said that the administration remains in the “very, very early stages” of an interagency review about whether to extend, replace, or jettison New START or to pursue a different type of approach, such as the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which only limited deployed warheads and did not include verification provisions. (See ACT, September 2018.)

    Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, reiterated at the hearing that the administration is still considering its options. “I know this committee has sought the Trump administration’s view of extending the treaty,” she said. “A decision has not been made at this time.”

    Thompson added that several issues would have an impact on an extension decision, including “Russia’s decision to manufacture compliance issues regarding U.S. weapons,” whether Russia would agree to limit the new strategic weapons systems Putin boasted about in a March speech, and Russia’s “behavior in other arms control agreements.”

    In a pre-election address to the Russian Federal Assembly on March 1, Putin boasted about the development of several new nuclear weapons systems, including nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicles; globe-circling, nuclear-powered cruise missiles; and very long-range nuclear torpedoes for use against U.S. port cities. (See ACT, April 2018.)

    Since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of testing and deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and is reviewing what the State Department calls defensive options in case Russia’s actions “result in the collapse of the treaty.” (See ACT, January/February 2018.) Moscow denies it is violating the agreement and instead has accused Washington of breaching the accord.

    Neither Thompson, nor David Trachtenberg, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, would provide their views on what the implications would be if New START were allowed to expire in 2021 with nothing to replace it. Trachtenberg testified alongside Thompson at the Sept. 18 hearing.

    The testimony from Thompson and Trachtenberg seemed to surprise and trouble some Republican committee members, particularly the question of linking continuation of New START to disputes involving other arms control treaties. Further, administration officials have had little to say publicly about the benefits of New START limitations to restrain the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

    “My concern is that we could be…saying, “Well, they’re violating the INF [Treaty]…and all these other treaties, and we don’t like all the stuff they’re doing,’ which is true,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “But I worry that we just throw, then, the New START treaty out.”

    “If the [New] START treaty is being complied with and it’s yielding the benefits to us of not having to have so many nuclear armaments,” committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked, “we would not consider undoing the [New] START treaty because other treaties are not being adhered to, would we?”

    Democratic members of the committee also criticized the administration’s position on the agreement and pointed out that their continued support for spending hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal hinged on the administration’s support for arms control, including extending New START. (See ACT, December 2017.)

    “I…want to remind the administration that bipartisan support for nuclear modernization is tied to maintaining an arms control process that controls and seeks to reduce Russian nuclear forces, which inevitably means promoting military and fiscally responsive policies on ourselves,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee’s ranking member, said. “We’re not interested in writing blank checks for a nuclear arms race with Russia, and we don’t want to step off our current path of stability to wander again down an uncertain road filled with potentially dire consequences.”

    Corker also acknowledged this linkage, stating that “the modernization piece, and the reduction in warheads piece go hand in hand.”

    Will the Trump administration let the treaty expire?

    The Case for a U.S. No-First-Use Policy


    October 2018
    By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

    Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” delivers an eerily accurate depiction of the absurd logic and catastrophic risks of U.S. and Russian Cold War nuclear deterrence strategy, but for one key detail: President Merkin Muffley was wrong when he said, “It is the avowed policy of our country never to strike first with nuclear weapons.” But it should be.

    A scene from Stanley Kubrick's classic 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove.” (Photo credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures)Fortunately, the nuclear “doomsday machine” has not yet been unleashed. Arms control agreements have led to significant, verifiable reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the two countries have ceased nuclear testing, and they have tightened checks on nuclear command and control.

    But the potential for a catastrophic nuclear war remains. The core elements of Cold War-era U.S. nuclear strategy are largely the same, including the option to use nuclear weapons first and the maintenance of prompt-launch policies that still give the president unchecked authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.

    Today, the United States and Russia deploy massive strategic nuclear arsenals consisting of up to 1,550 warheads on each side, as allowed under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. These numbers greatly exceed what it would take to decimate the other side and are far larger than required to deter a nuclear attack.

    Worse still, each side maintains the capability to fire a significant portion of its land- and sea-based missiles promptly and retains plans to launch these forces, particularly land-based missiles, under attack to guard against a “disarming” first strike. U.S. and Russian leaders also still reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first.

    As a result, President Donald Trump, whom Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly described as having the intellect of a “fifth- or sixth-grader,” has the authority to order the launch of some 800 nuclear warheads within about 15 minutes, with hundreds more weapons remaining in reserve. No other military or civilian official must approve the order. Congress currently has no say in the matter.

    Continuing to vest such destructive power in the hands of one person is undemocratic, irresponsible, unnecessary and increasingly untenable. Cavalier and reckless statements from Trump about nuclear weapons use only underscore the folly of vesting such unchecked authority in one person.

    Making matters worse, the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review expands the range of contingencies and options for potential nuclear use and proposes the development of “more-usable” low-yield nuclear weapons in order to give the president the flexibility to respond quickly in a crisis, including by using nuclear weapons first in response to a non-nuclear attack.

    The reality is that a launch-under-attack policy is unnecessary because U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems could withstand even a massive attack. Given the size, accuracy, and diversity of U.S. forces, the remaining nuclear force would be more than sufficient to deliver a devastating blow to any nuclear aggressor.

    In addition, keeping strategic forces on launch-under-attack mode increases the risk of miscalculation and misjudgment. Throughout the history of the nuclear age, there have been several incidents in which false signals of an attack have prompted U.S. and Russian officials to consider, in the dead of the night and under the pressure of time, launching nuclear weapons in retaliation. No U.S. leader should be put in a situation that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons based on false information.

    Retaining the option to use nuclear weapons first is fraught with unnecessary peril. Given the overwhelming conventional military edge of the United States and its allies, there is no plausible circumstance that could justify legally, morally, or militarily the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. Even in the event of a conventional military conflict with Russia, China, or North Korea, the first use of nuclear weapons would be counterproductive because it likely would trigger an uncontrollable, potentially suicidal all-out nuclear exchange.

    Some in Washington and Brussels believe Moscow might use or threaten to use nuclear weapons first to try to deter NATO from pressing its conventional military advantage in a conflict. Clearly, a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be initiated by either side. The threat of first use, however, cannot overcome perceived or real conventional force imbalances and are not an effective substitute for prudently maintaining U.S. and NATO conventional forces in Europe.

    As the major nuclear powers race to develop new nuclear capabilities and advanced conventional-strike weapons and consider using cybercapabilities to pre-empt nuclear attacks by adversaries, the risk that one leader may be tempted to use nuclear weapons first during a crisis likely will grow. A shift to a no-first-use posture, on the other hand, would increase strategic stability.

    Although the Trump administration is not going to rethink nuclear old-think, leaders in Congress and the next administration must re-examine and revise outdated nuclear launch policies in ways that reduce the nuclear danger.

    Shifting to a formal policy stating that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons and that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack would be a significant and smart step in the right direction.

     

     

    Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” delivers an eerily accurate depiction of the absurd logic and catastrophic risks of U.S. and Russian Cold War nuclear deterrence strategy, but for one key detail: President Merkin Muffley was wrong when he said, “It is the avowed policy of our country never to strike first with nuclear weapons.” But it should be.

    U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs

    August 2018

    Contact: Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

    Updated: August 2018

    Contents

    Cost Overview

    The United States maintains an arsenal of about 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), and Strategic Bombers and some 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in five European countries.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a major report in October 2017 that estimates the nuclear weapons spending plans President Donald Trump inherited from his predecessor will cost taxpayers $1.2 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars between fiscal years 2017 and 2046. This amounts to about 6 percent of all spending on national defense anticipated for that period, as of President Barack Obama’s final budget request to Congress in February 2016. When the effects of inflation are included, the 30-year cost would approach $1.7 trillion, according to a projection by the Arms Control Association.

    The CBO estimate captures spending on the triad of nuclear delivery systems and command and control systems at the Defense Department and on nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure at the Energy Department’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Nearly every element of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is slated to be upgraded over the next 20 years. Most of these efforts are in the early stages, and a few others have yet to begin.

    Other nuclear-armed states, notably Russia and China, are upgrading their arsenals and have tested, produced, and deployed more brand new systems than the United States over the past decade. But the U.S. military has upgraded and refurbished nearly all of its existing strategic and tactical delivery systems and the warheads they carry to last well beyond their originally planned service life and is now in the early stages of replacing many of these aging systems with new systems. Though decades old, these modernized forces are more capable than the originals and the new systems will include additional capability upgrades. The current and planned U.S. financial investment in nuclear forces is unrivaled by any other nuclear power.

    Gen. Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in March 2017 that while Russia and China continue to modernize their nuclear forces, "we [the United States] do have a qualitative advantage." 

    The Trump administration, as outlined in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) released on Feb. 2, 2018, intends to continue the modernization plan laid out by the Obama administration, and also develop several new nuclear weapons capabilities that will add to the price tag for nuclear forces, including the near-term development of a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and the longer-term development of new nuclear submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM).

    The NPR acknowledges that the upgrade costs are “substantial” but claims that nuclear weapons will consume no more than 6.4 percent of the defense budget. This projection does not include the cost of the new capabilities proposed in the review nor the major costs that must be borne by NNSA to upgrade nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure.

    The CBO estimates that annual spending on nuclear weapons will peak at about $50 billion during the late 2020s and early 2030s. During this period, nuclear weapons would consume about 8 percent of total national defense spending and 15 percent of the Defense Department’s acquisition costs. The CBO estimate includes the full cost to sustain and upgrade long-range strategic bombers.

    White House and Pentagon officials and defense budget watchers have expressed concern that the current triad modernization plans may not be executable in the absence of significant and sustained increases to overall military spending in the coming 15-20 years, in large part due to the fact that nuclear costs are scheduled to rise and overlap with a large "bow wave" in projected spending on conventional weapon system modernization programs, as well as rising personnel and readiness costs.

    Former head of U.S. Strategic Command Gen. Robert Kehler said in November 2017 that he is "skeptical that we are capable of remaining committed to a long-term project like this [nuclear modernization] without basically messing with it and screwing it up."

    The 2011 Budget Control Act puts in place caps on military spending through 2021. According to the CBO, in the long-term an aging population, rising health care costs, and the rising interest on the national debt will constrain the amount of funding available for discretionary spending, including defense spending, if tax revenues do not increase significantly. However, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 increased the FY 2018 cap for national defense spending by $80 billion to $269 billion and increased the FY 2019 cap by $85 billion to $647 billion. Regardless, pressure on the defense budget and the implicit trade-offs within that budget are likely to persist into the 2020s and 2030s. 

    For FY 2019 President Trump requested $11 billion to fund NNSA's nuclear weapons activities. This represents a massive 19 percent increase over the FY 2017 appropriation and reflects the direction in the NPR to significantly expand the agency’s work to prepare the United States to develop, test, and deploy new nuclear weapons and to increase the size of the nuclear stockpile. According to former deputy NNSA administrator Madelyn Creedon, “The biggest challenge laid out in the 2018 report is the new assignment for the NNSA.”

    A U.S. Government Accountability Office report issued last year, warned that the “NNSA’s plans to modernize its nuclear weapons do not align with its budget, raising affordability concerns.” And former agency administrator Frank Klotz said in a Jan. 23 interview just two days after leaving office that the agency is “working pretty much at full capacity.”

    Nuclear Modernization Snapshot

    The overall nuclear modernization effort includes: 

    • Modernized Strategic Delivery Systems: Existing U.S. nuclear delivery systems are undergoing continual modernization, including complete rebuilds of the Minuteman III ICBM and Trident II SLBM. The service lives of the Navy’s 14 Trident Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are being extended. Additionally, a new submarine, the Columbia class, which will replace the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, is undergoing development and is expected to cost about $128 billion to develop, according to the Defense Department. The B-2 strategic bomber, a relatively new system, is being upgraded, as is the B-52H bomber. The Air Force is also planning a new strategic bomber, the B-21, and a new nuclear-capable cruise missile, known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) to replace the existing Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).
    • Refurbished Nuclear Warheads: The U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads and bombs is continually refurbished through NNSA’s Life Extension Program (LEP). Existing warheads are certified annually to be safe and reliable. The NNSA is currently pursuing a controversial and expensive plan to consolidate the existing number of nuclear warhead types from 10 down to 5, although this program has been delayed. Known as the "3+2" strategy, the five LEPs associated with this approach are estimated to cost over $60 billion.
    • Modernized Production Complex: The nuclear weapons production complex is being modernized as well, with new facilities planned and funded. For example, the FY 2019 NNSA budget request includes $703 million for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The total construction cost for UPF is estimated at $6.5 – 7.5 billion, according to an independent study conducted by the Corps of Engineers, although some estimates put the price tag at $11 billion. NNSA has pledged to complete construction by 2025 for $6.5 billion.
    • Command and Control Systems: The Defense Department maintains command, control, communications, and early-warning systems that allow operators to communicate with nuclear forces, issue commands that control their use, and detect or rule out incoming attacks. The department plans to spend $40.5 billion on these activities between FY 2017 and FY 2026. This estimate is probably understated as the Pentagon is still developing its plan for modernizing these systems. In addition, the 2018 NPR calls for placing greater attention and focus on sustaining and upgrading command and control capabilities. 
    • Nuclear Force Improvement Program: In the wake of revelations of professional and ethical lapses and poor morale in the U.S. nuclear force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in November 2014 steps the department is taking to address the numerous setbacks. These include changing the conduct of inspections to reduce the burden on airmen and sailors, eliminating micromanagement of nuclear personnel seen as overtaxed by excessive bureaucratic and administrative requirements, and elevating the head of Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the Air Force’s nuclear forces, from a three- to a four-star rank.

    Nuclear Modernization Overview

    The following is a status update of existing programs to enhance the nuclear stockpile and modernize the delivery systems that make up each element of the U.S. nuclear triad:

    1. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) 

    The United States Air Force currently deploys about 400 Minuteman III ICBMs (as of February 5, 2018) located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming; Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana; and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. U.S. nuclear-armed ICBMs are on high alert, meaning the missiles can be fired within minutes of a presidential decision to do so. Under the New START treaty, the United States maintains 50 extra missile silos in a "warm" reserve status.

    Today's Minuteman weapon system is the product of almost 40 years of continuous enhancement. The Pentagon has spent over $7 billion over the past 15 years on life extension efforts to keep the ICBMs safe, secure and reliable through 2030. This modernization program has resulted in an essentially "new" missile, expanded targeting options, and improved accuracy and survivability. 

    Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent

    The Air Force is planning to replace the Minuteman III missile, its supporting launch control facilities, and command and control infrastructure. The Air Force intends to purchase over 600 missiles, 400 of which would be operationally deployed through 2070. The remaining missiles would be used for test flights and as spares. The replacement program is known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). The service is seeking to make significant capability upgrades as part of the recapitalization program. The Pentagon in August 2016 set the estimated acquisition cost of the program at $85 billion and the total life-cycle cost at $238 billion (in then-year dollars). The $85 billion estimate is at the lower-end of an independent Pentagon cost-estimate that put the acquisition price tag as high as $140 billion.

    For FY 2019, the Trump administration requested $345 million for the program, a 60 percent increase over 2018.  On Aug. 21, 2017, the Air Force awarded contracts to both Boeing Company and Northrop Grumman to continue development and begin design of the new ICBM system.

    W78 and W87 Warheads

    The Air Force has also upgraded the Minuteman’s nuclear warheads by partially replacing older W78 warheads with newer and more powerful W87 warheads, formerly deployed on the now-retired MX Peacekeeper ICBMs. The W87 entered the U.S. stockpile in 1986, making it one of the newest warheads in the arsenal with the most modern safety and security features, including insensitive high explosive and a fire-resistant pit design, which can help to minimize the possibility of plutonium dispersal in the event of an accident. Under a 2004 LEP, the W87 warhead was refurbished to extend its service life past 2025.

    NNSA has proposed a joint LEP to field a common, refurbished warhead to replace the W78 and W88 (see SLBMs, below). Congress approved NNSA's 2014 proposal to delay production of this warhead by five years from 2025 to 2030. However, the 2018 NPR proposes to accelerate the program by one year and the FY 2019 budget request would provide $53 million for the project.

    2. Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and Submarines

    The United States Navy deploys, as of February 2018, 203 Trident II D5 SLBMs on 12 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) based out of Bangor, Washington (7 boats) and Kings Bay, Georgia (5 boats). The Ohio-class submarines have a service life of 42 years — two twenty-year cycles with a two-year mid-life nuclear refueling. The total fleet includes 14 boats but due to the refueling process, only 12 SSBNs are operational at any given time. Four to five submarines are believed to be "on station" in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans ready to fire their missiles at targets at any given time.

    The Ohio-class SSBNs were first deployed in 1981, and will reach the end of their services at a rate of approximately one boat per year between 2027 and 2040. The Navy plans to replace each retiring boat, starting in 2031, with a new class of ballistic missile submarine, now referred to as the Columbia class. The Navy originally planned to begin using the replacement boats in 2029, but in 2012 the Pentagon announced a two-year delay to the replacement program. This pushed back completion of the first new submarine to 2031.

    Taking into account the delay, the Navy now plans to purchase the first Columbia class submarine in 2021, the second in 2024, and one per year between 2026 and 2035. The first vessel is scheduled to become operational in 2031. As a result, the Navy will field 10 ballistic missile submarines between 2030 and 2040. 

    In its FY 2019 request, the Navy asked for $3.7 billion for the Columbia class program — a 97 percent increase over 2018, making it the second-most expensive program in the 2019 Pentagon budget request, next to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy ultimately wants 12 boats, and in 2017 estimated the cost to develop and buy the submarines to be $128 billion in then-year dollars at the total life-cycle cost to be $267 billion. However, a report on the Columbia class program published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in December 2017 warned that the program is not adequately funded to address program risks and that the acquisition cost is likely to exceed $128 billion.

    Under New START, each Ohio-class submarine serves as a launch platform for up to 20 SLBMs loaded with up to eight warheads each, or 240 total SLBMs. The Columbia class will carry up to 16 SLBMs, for a maximum of 192 deployed SLBMs when the fleet is fully converted to the new boats in 2040.

    Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles

    First deployed in 1990, the force of Trident II D5 missiles has been successfully tested over 160 times since design completion in 1989 and is continuously evaluated. (By contrast, Russia's newest SLBM, the Bulava, has failed in roughly half its flight tests.) The Trident II D5 LEP is underway to modernize key components, notably the electronics, and extend the life of the missile until 2042. In 2008, 12 life-extended variants of the D5 were purchased; 24 D5s were produced each year through 2012 for a total of 108 missiles at a total cost of $15 billion. The first modified D5s were deployed in 2013. The Navy’s FY 2019 budget request includes a proposed $1.23 billion to fund the Trident II LEP. 

    The Pentagon has yet to establish replacement program of record for the Trident II (D5), development of which is likely to begin in the 2020s.

    W76 and W88 Warheads

    The D5 SLBMs are armed with approximately 768 W76 and 384 W88 warheads. In 2009, NNSA began delivery of the W76-1, a refurbished version of the W76 that extends its service life for an additional 30 years. NNSA plans to complete the $4 billion production of up to 2,000 W76-1 warheads by 2019. NNSA requested $114 million for the W76 life extension program for FY 2019, down from $222 million the year before. 

    The W88 entered the stockpile in 1989, making it the newest warhead in the arsenal. The W88 was the last U.S. warhead produced before the Rocky Flats Plants - which made plutonium "pits" - was shut down in 1989. NNSA re-established pit production capacity at Los Alamos National Laboratory with the first "certifiable" pit in 2003, and new production resumed in 2007. A new plutonium research and pit production facility, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), was planned for Los Alamos, but was put on hold for budget reasons in 2012. 

    With the rebuilt Trident D5 missile in service to 2042, the W76-1's life extended to 2040-50, the relatively new W88 in service, and a new class of SSBNs lasting into the 2070s, the U.S. Navy’s Trident Fleet will be kept robust and modern deep into the 21st century.

    3. Strategic Bombers

    The United States Air Force currently maintains 13 deployed B-2 Spirit bombers at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, and 36 deployed B-52H bombers at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, that can be equipped for nuclear missions as of September 2017.  

    Projected spending on nuclear weapons modernization programs could account for as much as 19% of estimated Pentagon modernization spending over the next 15 years, according to a recent analysis of 120 planned major Defense Department acquisition programs. (Source: Todd Harrison, CSIS)

    B-52H Bomber

    The B-52H fleet, first deployed in 1961, has an on-going modification program, beginning in 1989, incorporating updates to the global positioning system, updating the weapons capabilities to accommodate a full array of advanced weapons developed after the procurement of the B-52H, and modifying the heavy stores adapter beams to allow the B-52H to carry up to 2,000 pound munitions and a total of 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance armaments. In FY 2011 the Air Force added to its modernization efforts for the B-52H, receiving funding for the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program, which updates the B-52 computer infrastructure. The upgrade is projected to cost a total of $1.1 billion.

    The B-52H is expected to remain in service until 2040. 

    B-2 Bomber

    The Air Force continually modernizes the B-2 fleet, which first became operational in 1997 and is expected to last through 2058.

    Ongoing B-2 modifications include an incremental three-part program to update the Extremely High Frequency Satellite Communications and Computer Upgrade program (EHF SATCOM). Increment 1 will upgrade the B-2’s flight management computers. Increment 2 provides more secure and survivable strategic communications by integrating the Family of Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals with the low observable antenna. Increment 3 connects the B-2 with the Global Information Grid. The Air Force also began procuring components for a Radar Modernization Program (RMP) in FY 2009. The RMP includes replacing the original radar antenna and upgrading radar avionics.

    The Air Force announced in February 2018 that "once sufficient B-21 aircraft are operational, the B-1s and B-2s will be incrementally retired."

    B-21 Bomber

    The Air Force is planning to purchase at least 100 new, dual-capable long-range penetrating bombers that will replace the B-1 and B-52 bombers. Known as the B-21, the Pentagon estimates the average procurement unit cost per aircraft will be between $546 million and $606 million (in Fy 2016 dollars). Fielding is slated to begin in the mid- 2020s. The Trump administration requested $2.3 billion for the program in FY2019. The Air Force plans to spend $38.5 billion between FY 2017 and FY 2026 on research and development for the new bomber (in then-year dollars). The Air Force has refused to release the value of the contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. in October 2015 to begin developing the B-21 program and the estimated total cost of the program, citing classification concerns.

    The CBO estimates the B-21 program will cost $97 billion (in FY 2017 constant dollars).

    Air-Launched Cruise Missile and Long-Range Standoff Cruise Missile

    The B-52H carries the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), first deployed in 1981. Each ALCM carries a W80-1 warhead, first produced in 1982. The Air Force retained roughly 570 nuclear-capable ALCMs as of the spring of 2015. Roughly 200 of these missiles are believed to be deployed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota with the W80-1 nuclear warhead. 

    Some reports indicate that the reliability of the ALCM could be in jeopardy due to aging components which are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

    The Air Force is developing the long-range standoff cruise missile (LRSO) to replace the existing ALCM. The new missile will be compatible with the B-2 and B-52H bombers, as well as the planned B-21. The first missile is slated to be produced in 2026. The LRSO would carry the refurbished W80-4 warhead.

    The current Air Force procurement plan for the LRSO calls for about 1,000 new nuclear-capable missiles, roughly double the size of the existing fleet of ALCMs. According to the service, the planned purchase of 1,000 missiles includes far more missiles than it plans to arm and deploy with nuclear warheads. For FY 2019, NNSA requested $654 million for the W80-4, making it the second-most expensive nuclear warhead, next to the B61-12. In addition,  the Air Force requested $615 million for development of the LRSO missile.

    The Pentagon projects the cost to acquire the new missile fleet at about $11 billion (in then-year dollars) and the cost to operate and sustain the missile fleet over its expected life at over $6 billion (in constant FY 2016 dollars). The Energy Department projects the cost of the life extension program for the ALCM warhead to be between $8 billion and $11.6 billion (in then-year dollars).

    B61 and B83 Warheads

    The B-2 carries the B61 and B83 strategic gravity bombs. The B61 has several mods, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 11. B61-3 and B61-4 are non-strategic weapons deployed in Europe for NATO aircraft as part of America’s extended nuclear commitment.

    The B61-7 and B61-11 are strategic weapons deployed on the B-2 bomber. An LEP recently extended the life of the B61-7 for an additional 20 years by refurbishing the bomb’s secondary stage (canned subassembly) and replacing the associated seals, foam supports, cables and connectors, washers, o-rings, and limited life components. The ongoing B61 LEP would combine mods 3, 4, and 7 into a single bomb, the B61 mod 12. The B61-12 is slated to begin production in 2020 and will refurbish the bomb  with new firing, arming, and safety components, updated radar components, permissive action link components and equipment, modified power supplies, thermal batteries, join test assemblies, weapon trainers, and test and handling gear.  The LEP will also modify the B61 for compatibility with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The LEP will extend the life of the B61s for 20-30 years.

    An updated assessment of the B61 life extension program (LEP) performed by the NNSA in 2016 put the direct cost of the program at $7.6 billion, an increase of $200 million over the agency’s estimate of $7.4 billion provided in its fiscal year 2017 budget materials. The NNSA’s independent Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation, however, told the GAO that its assessment of the program projects a total cost of approximately $10 billion and a two-year delay to the agency’s estimated March 2020 first production-unit date. NNSA requested $794 million for the B61 LEP in FY 2019. 

    The upgraded B61 will be equipped with a new tail-kit guidance assembly that will make the bomb more accurate and allow it to have a lower yield than some of the existing variants. The new tail kit is being developed by the Air Force and is estimated to cost $1.3 billion.

    The B83 was first produced in 1983, making it one of the newer weapons in the stockpile and the only remaining megaton-class weapon in the stockpile. The B83 has the most modern safety and security features, including insensitive high explosive and a fire-resistant pit. 

    The Obama administration stated that the B83 would be retired once confidence in the B61 mod 12 is projected to be achieved in the mid 2020s. However, the Trump NPR reverses this decision and calls for retaining the B83 until a suitable replacement is found.

    US NUCLEAR MODERNIZATION PROGRAMS

    Department of Defense Programs

    System

    Modernization Plan

    Costs

    Length of Deployment

    Additional Information

    Minuteman III ICBM

    Modernization and Replacement Program

    $7 billion

    through 2030 

    Modernizes the propellant, guidance systems, propulsion system, targeting system, reentry vehicles and continues work on the rocket motors

    New ICBM (GBSD)

    Replace the Minuteman III missile and associated launch control and command and control facilities

    $85-$140 billion (DoD estimate; FY 2017-2046)

    2080s

    Air Force plans to purchase over 600 new ICBMs

    B-2 Bomber

    Modernization Program

    $9.5 billion (FY 2000-2014)

    2050s

    Improves radar and high frequency satellite communications capabilities for nuclear command and control

    B-52H Bomber

    On-going modifications

     

    2040s

    Incorporates global positioning systems, updates computers and modernizes heavy stores adapter beams, and a full array of advance weapons

    Long Range Strike Bomber (B-21)

    Research and development phase

    $38.5 billion (FY 2017-2026)

    2080s

    The exact specifications of the new bomber are classified

    Long Range Standoff Cruise Missile (LRSO)

    Replacement for the ALCM

    $20 billion (estimated; includes cost of W80-4 warhead refurbishment)

    2060s

    Air Force plans to procure ~1,000 LRSOs

    Columbia Class SSBN (SSBN(X))

    New ballistic missile submarine

    $128 billion (2016 Navy acquisition estimate)

    2031 - 2080s

    Navy plans to purchase 12 new submarines to replace the existing 14 Ohio-class submarines

    Trident II D5 SLBM LEP

    Modernization and life extension

    $6 billion (FY 2019-2023

    2042

     

    Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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    Can Trump and Putin Head Off a New Nuclear Arms Race?

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    Volume 10, Issue 8, August 8, 2018

    The much-anticipated July 16 summit meeting in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin did not go well for the United States. In a news conference following the two-hour, one-on-one tête-à-tête between the two leaders, Trump, unfortunately, failed to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election and said he believed Putin’s denial of involvement to be “extremely strong and powerful.”

    Nor does it appear that the meeting has resulted in any tangible breakthrough toward the goal of improving the strained U.S.-Russian relationship. This includes the most important area in which U.S. and Russian security interests continue to align: reducing the risk of catastrophic nuclear war and curbing a qualitative nuclear arms race that threatens to become a quantitative arms race.

    The United States is poised to spend more than $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years on maintaining and upgrading its nuclear delivery systems (bombers, land-based missiles, and submarines) and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure. The Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review spells out – with more frightening specificity than before – the circumstances under which use of American nuclear weapons will be considered and proposes two new, “more usable” types of low-yield nuclear weapons.

    Russia is also replacing and upgrading its bloated nuclear arsenal. Worse yet, Russia is in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and Putin has boasted of new, Strangelovian weapons, including nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicles, globe-circling nuclear-powered cruise missiles and very long-range nuclear torpedoes for use against American port cities.

    Neither the planning nor the boasting needs to become our reality. Indeed, Trump told reporters at the White House in March that he wanted to meet with Putin in large part “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control” and has characterized the costly nuclear upgrade programs being pursued by each side as “a very, very bad policy.”

    In Helsinki, Putin presented the Trump administration with several proposals “to work together further to interact on the disarmament agenda, military, and technical cooperation.” These included: beginning discussions about an extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which verifiably limits U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces and expires in early 2021; reaffirming commitment to the INF Treaty; resuming dialogue on Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense plans and joint efforts to eliminate missile threats; and measures to prevent dangerous military incidents. Russia also proposed to resume “strategic stability” talks as a forum to discuss the above and related issues.

    Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit, July 2017 (Source: Kremlin.ru)

    Following the summit, Trump stated that “[p]erhaps the most important issue we discussed at our meeting...was the reduction of nuclear weapons throughout the world.”

    But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 25 that no specific agreements were reached on nuclear arms control in Helsinki and the administration doesn’t yet have a position on whether to extend New START. U.S. officials have said that Washington has been seeking to resume the strategic stability talks, but the two sides have not agreed upon a date.

    As the United States and Russia work to build on the dialogue that began in Helsinki and prepare for a possible second summit meeting between Trump and Putin, there are four relatively simple decisions the two leaders could make that could reduce nuclear risks and lay a more positive foundation for further steps not just in nuclear arms control, but in the still thornier disputes that divide the two powers.

    Immediately Extend New START

    Like the larger relationship, the U.S.-Russian arms control architecture is under significant strain. New START remains one of the few bright spots in the relationship. Ratified in 2011, the Treaty limits the number of deployed strategic warheads to a maximum of 1,550 on each side, a target each met earlier this year, and which is far below the tens of thousands we pointed at each other during the Cold War. The Treaty imposes important bounds on strategic nuclear competition as long as it is in force.

    Although it expires in February 2021, the treaty can be extended by up to five years by agreement by the two Presidents, without requiring further action by the Congress or the Duma. If New START is not extended, then in 2021 there will be no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest strategic arsenals for the first time since 1972. Unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition - in both numbers and technology - could spark an arms race as dangerous as that of the 1950s and 1960s and add scores of billions in additional costs to an already unrealistic U.S. nuclear upgrade plan.

    For his part, Putin has repeatedly voiced interest in extending the treaty. This seems due in part to the fact that if the New START limit on deployed strategic warheads (1,550 each) were to expire, the United States would have a significant “upload” potential by virtue of its higher number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.

    The most recent New START data exchange shows that the United States has 652 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers, while Russia has 527. Russia appears to be seeking a similar upload capability. This means that in the absence of New START, each side could quickly increase the number of warheads deployed on these systems.

    In his first call with Putin after inauguration day, Trump reportedly described New START as another flawed deal negotiated by his predecessor, like the Iran deal that he recently upended. Before joining the Trump administration as National Security Advisor, John Bolton also castigated the agreement. The administration is currently conducting a review of the pros and cons of extending the treaty.

    But a decision to extend the Treaty can be packaged so that it is a personal victory for President Trump, rather than an extension of an Obama achievement. Extension until February 2026, would preserve its significant security advantages – not only the numerical limits, which aid U.S. military planning, but also the mutual transparency provided by the treaty’s verification measures (including data exchanges, notifications, and inspections).

    An extension would also buy more time for the two sides to discuss other stabilizing measures while improving the bilateral political atmosphere. It would provide a venue to discuss and possibly limit several of the new systems under development by Russia (the treaty allows for the limitation of new strategic arms developed after the treaty entered into force) and lay the base for talks to further reduce each side’s nuclear stockpiles.

    Moreover, while many observers are rightly concerned about what Trump might give away in diplomacy with Putin, extending New START could help create a positive atmosphere for reducing tensions in the U.S.-Russian relationship without making an unwise or impractical concession to Moscow. Key Senate Democrats have called for an extension of the treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance with it.

    Resolve the INF Treaty Compliance Dispute

    The INF Treaty made a major contribution to European and global security by verifiably eliminating all U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

    However, the treaty is now at risk, with the United States charging that Russia has deployed an illegal ground-launched cruise missile – the 9M729. Moscow, for its part, alleges, far less credibly, that Washington may be violating the treaty too. Its major gripe is that the U.S. is deploying missile defense systems in Europe that could be used to launch offensive missiles.

    Russia’s flagrant violation of the treaty, as well as other key agreements such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, is unacceptable and requires a firm U.S. response, including enhancements to U.S. and NATO conventional military preparedness if the violation persists.

    Complicating matters further, the Trump administration is pursuing a response to Russia’s violation that includes the development of our own treaty-prohibited missile. Some in Congress are also suggesting that we respond to Russia’s violations by declaring the agreement null and void if Russia doesn’t immediately return to compliance. Both moves play directly into Moscow’s propaganda interests.

    Efforts to address the reciprocal accusations through the treaty’s dispute mechanism – the Special Verification Commission – have done little to resolve either side’s concerns. This is the moment when Trump and Putin need to provide a political impetus to those stalled expert discussions. The problems are technically complex, but they can be resolved.

    Independent U.S. and Russian experts who are familiar with the nature of the Russian INF violation agree that in order to break the impasse, both sides need to acknowledge the concerns of the other side. They argue that Washington and Moscow should agree to reciprocal site visits by experts to examine the missiles and the deployment sites in dispute. If the 9M729 missile is determined to have a range that exceeds 500 km, Russia could modify the missile to ensure it no longer violates the treaty or, ideally, halt production and eliminate any such missiles in its possession.

    For its part, the United States could modify its missile defense launchers to clearly distinguish them from the launchers used to fire offensive missiles from U.S. warships or agree to transparency measures that give Russia confidence the launchers don’t contain offensive missiles. Such an arrangement would address the concerns of both sides and restore compliance with the treaty without Russia having to acknowledge its original violation of the treaty.

    Resume the Dialogue on Strategic Stability

    Russian-American consultations on strategic stability are neither a luxury nor “business as usual.” They provide a means for each side to express concerns about new technologies and capabilities that may disrupt the tenuous balance of nuclear terror that has held – with a good deal of luck – for more than 60 years. This dialogue provides the forum at which military officials can make agreements that reduce the risk of a non-nuclear conflict. It also provides the ‘circuit breaking’ signal mechanisms that can prevent an incident from escalating from conventional to nuclear combat.

    As Bernard Brodie noted in 1946 at the onset of the nuclear age, the chief job of the military is now not to win wars, but to avert them. A strategic stability dialogue serves the function of enhancing understanding and avoiding misperceptions between two military establishments with world-killing power that can be unleashed within minutes of an order to do so.

    There is much of concern to discuss through the strategic stability format as first envisioned by the Obama administration. In addition to the development of new nuclear weapons and the erosion of key arms control guardrails, technological change and advances in conventional weapons are raising concerns about new escalation dangers. Both sides are developing hypersonic missiles, new missile defense capabilities, offensive cyber weapons, and anti-satellite and counterspace weapons.

    U.S. efforts to convene such a bilateral dialogue have led only to intermittent meetings in the last five years, with no hard results. The United States and Russia held a round of strategic stability talks in September in Helsinki, but Russia pulled out of the second round of talks slated to take place in March in Vienna.

    The Nuclear Posture Review did not offer any proposals to advance U.S.-Russian arms control or address these growing challenges to strategic stability more broadly. But with Trump’s State Department team finally in place, it’s time for the two leaders to commit to an intensified dialogue to reduce the immediate risk and to lay the basis for eventually achieving a less threatening nuclear posture on both sides. To succeed such a dialogue must include topics which the United States has always been reluctant to put on the agenda, such as ballistic missile defense and the development of rapid-strike conventional weapons.

    Making Avoiding Nuclear War Great Again

    When Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit meeting in 1985 in Geneva, they issued a joint statement that was both self-evident and reassuring: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” It set the right tone for the resumption of nuclear arms reduction negotiations that would eventually yield dramatic results in the years that followed.

    In itself, such a statement from Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at their next meeting would not immediately reduce bloated U.S. and Russian arsenals or eliminate the launch-under-attack nuclear doctrines that still could lead us to a civilization-ending conflict. But it would demonstrate to a world on edge about Moscow and Washington’s nuclear bluster that those who fashion themselves as world leaders recognize their most basic responsibilities to humanity.

    For decades, U.S. leadership has limited the spread of nuclear weapons, drastically reduced the global inventory of these weapons, brought about a halt to all nuclear testing by all but one state (North Korea), and sustained a strong taboo against nuclear weapons use.

    But today—five decades after the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated—the global nuclear order is under increasing strain due to the North Korean threat, stalled progress on global disarmament, rising tensions between several nuclear-armed states, and global technological advances that are putting new pressures on nuclear stability.

    Trump and Putin have an important opportunity to put the brakes on a new, potentially more dangerous, arms race. Important steps in that direction would come from extending New START, preserving the INF Treaty while resolving compliance disputes, and resuming discussion of the strategic stability agenda, from which both sides and the broader world community will benefit.

    THOMAS M. COUNTRYMAN, former acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security and chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association; KINGSTON A. REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy; DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director

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    Trump and Putin have an important opportunity to put the brakes on a new, potentially more dangerous, arms race.

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    ACA Board Chair on Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon Free World

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    Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon Free World

    Remarks by Thomas Countryman
    Chairman of the Arms Control Association
    to the International Symposium for Peace 
    Nagasaki, Japan
    July 28, 2018

    Introduction

    Panelists discuss working toward sustainable peace at the International Symposium for Peace “The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition” held on July 28 in Nagasaki. (Photo: Kengo Hiyoshi/Asahi Shimbun) Let me thank the organizers of today’s conference for bringing me again to Japan. In my current focus outside the government of the United States, continuing to push for real progress on nonproliferation and arms control measures, it's always a special pleasure to come to Japan. The Japanese role in leading the international diplomatic challenge to create the highest standards in arms control and nonproliferation is unparalleled. Not only as a partner of the United States but in its own leadership role, Japan has done much to create the modern nonproliferation regime that has greatly reduced but not yet eliminated the threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to all of us.

    It is especially moving to be here in Nagasaki. Visiting the memorial yesterday, a sacred place, brought back to me what President Abraham Lincoln said at the site of the bloodiest battle America ever witnessed: that those who have fallen on this site “have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract”. I sensed on this spot what no book can convey: the enormous challenge and the risk that humanity continues to face in the presence of 15,000 nuclear weapons in this world. Here I want to commend the very special role the hibakusha have played in preserving vital lessons for the memory of humanity. For 70 years, they have spread the simple truth that a human being is not just a statistic. They will touch future generations long after their own has passed from this world. I wish that every American and every world leader would have the opportunity to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki as I have.

    Current Challenges

    It is much easier to talk about the challenges to nuclear disarmament than it is to describe a simple path to a world free of nuclear weapons. So let me dwell first on the current challenges that we face.

    First, the two major nuclear powers, the United States and the Russian Federation, have passed a turning point in their nuclear doctrines and nuclear arsenals. After about 40 years of a steady decrease in the size and diversity of their nuclear arsenals and the mission that each assigned to their nuclear weapons, both Washington and Moscow have turned a corner towards expanding the size and variety of arsenals and the circumstances for their use.

    U.S. 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

    The U.S. administration’s Nuclear Posture Review from this February is not a radical change from the previous nuclear posture but it is a significant change in direction. In calling for the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons, the United States is thinking more actively and – in my view - making more thinkable the use of low-yield nuclear weapons in the context of a conventional conflict. As so many have pointed out, there is no such thing as a limited nuclear war once that threshold has been crossed. “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon," George Shultz, who served as President Ronald Reagan's top diplomat, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in January. "You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there."

    Secondly, the Nuclear Posture Review describes with more specificity than before circumstances under which the United States would consider the use of nuclear weapons to encompass not only first use by an opponent but also a response to a devastating attack by cyber or other means. Just two years ago, the Obama administration considered carefully the possibility of proclaiming a no-first-use doctrine for U.S. nuclear weapons. That U.S. policy has now shifted towards a broader definition of possible first use is of deep concern to me.

    Finally, I am most disappointed in the Nuclear Posture Review in that it effectively renounces the traditional leadership that the U.S has exercised on non-proliferation and arms control issues. It makes no mention of America’s binding legal obligation under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to pursue a reduction in arsenals. It makes no new proposals for how the U.S. will move forward in negotiations with Russia and others. And it defers any meaningful action until security conditions in the world have improved. This retreat from global leadership, whether in arms control, in climate policy or in free trade agreements is unworthy of a nation that claims to be a superpower.

    Russia

    As concerned as I am about the direction of U.S. policy, I am even more concerned about the continuing development by Russia of new weapons and new delivery methods. Russia seems driven by an exaggerated fear, in fact, a paranoia, about the future capabilities of U.S. missile defense. I call these fears exaggerated because I believe that missile defense can never provide an impenetrable shield. Russia is building not only new generations of ICBMs but even more dangerous weapons systems that seem to step out of the pages of a science fiction comic book, including a nuclear torpedo of unlimited range and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Russia seems intent on probing the boundaries of existing arms control agreements, particularly the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which laid the basis for the next 25 years of successful arms limitations. Even more than the uninformed statements by the U.S. president, the rhetoric of the Russian president - increasingly defining Russia’s national power as a function of its nuclear arsenal - erodes both the prospect of future arms control and the moral taboo against initiating the use of nuclear weapons. The 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is due to expire in 2021 and although President Putin has raised the prospect of extending the treaty, President Trump has so far rebuffed such proposals.

    Joint Comprehensive Program Of Action

    In the shorter term, I am especially concerned about the U.S. decision to withdraw from, that is to violate, the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action with Iran. This agreement is unprecedented, both in its inspection and verification requirements, and it prevented the risk of a tenth state breaking into the nuclear weapons club. I do not believe that Iranian development of a nuclear weapon is imminent but I am deeply concerned about the follow-on effects of this decision, that is the undermining of U.S. credibility and commitment to any agreement, the creation of a serious dispute between the U.S. and its best allies in Europe and Asia, the erosion of the international rules-based order and a resurgent radicalism in Iran.

    North Korea

    I am less pessimistic but still deeply concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. President Trump did the right thing, trading in violent rhetoric for an opportunity for dialogue. There are dozens of reasons to distrust North Korea’s approach to negotiations and to doubt the capability of the Trump administration to negotiate a meaningful, verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. But the pursuit of negotiation is far preferable to simply sleepwalking towards war, as we seemed to be doing a year ago.

    Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)

    The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty remains central to our shared global ambition to prevent the development of new nuclear weapons and to reduce existing arsenals. On the surface, the deliberations at NPT conferences often seem utterly divorced from the real world. In fact, all the concerns I’ve just listed have a real effect on the degree of consensus you can reach among NPT parties and on the commitment that other parties show to the treaty.

    For the 2020 Review Conference, I can foresee the worst but I am determined to work for the best. The RevCon can easily be upset either by the U.S. and Russia sniping at each other or by the continued inability of the states in the Middle East to sit down together and begin the process of discussing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East. But the most severe threat to the unity of states-parties is the growing frustration of non-nuclear weapon states with the pace of nuclear disarmament. Seeing no new U.S.-Russian agreements since 2010 and the new threatening developments in Washington and Moscow that I’ve already described, the majority of the world’s non-nuclear weapon states have made clear that they will demand more urgent progress in 2020.

    Moving Towards a Nuclear Weapon Free World

    So what can we do to move towards a world free from nuclear weapons?

    Near-Term Steps

    There are a number of steps that the United States and Russia could take right now that would change the current trajectory. First and most simply, to hear President Trump and President Putin repeat what Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan said in 1985 - that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought - would be of value, would provide some reassurance that these two leaders understand their responsibilities to humanity. Secondly, the United States and Russia need to extend New START. Third, they need to make a political decision to work harder on resolving the dispute about compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty. And fourth there needs to be a more regular dialogue between Moscow and Washington on both the military and political level, to pursue risk reduction measures that would prevent a conventional conflict from escalating to a nuclear one and to explore other steps that would allow each to maintain security at a lower level of armament. Finally, the United States should reassert the leadership it showed after 2010 when it led an intensive dialogue among the P5 nuclear-weapon states to give the world greater transparency, to reduce nuclear risks, and to lay the groundwork for future multilateral arms control.

    It’s not easy to get either Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin to do something that reminds them of Mikhail Gorbachev or Barack Obama. In fact, it’s not easy to get them to do something unless you can convince them that it was their own brilliant idea. But it is an obligation of the rest of the world to continue to press for this. I know from my own experience with bilateral diplomacy that meetings with either Russian or American leaders always have an agenda filled with urgent items and that concerns about long-term items such as arms control simply fall out of the conversation. It is crucial that not only Japanese leaders but all world leaders press both Presidents to take serious action.

    Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

    Beyond Moscow and Washington, what can non-nuclear weapon states do for themselves to move us towards a nuclear-weapon-free world? Many non-nuclear weapon states have sought to answer that question by negotiating a new treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted last July.

    The drafting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last year was historic. Some would like to see it as simply an expression of frustration on the part of the non-nuclear weapon states. It’s a lot more than that. It is a strong moral and ethical statement. And more than that, it is something tangible, something that can be touched by the hibakusha and the citizens of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is a statement of reality that the risk of nuclear war is not born only by the nuclear-weapon states but by the entire world. And it is intended to serve as an impulse for further action globally on nuclear disarmament. I’m well aware of its limitations. The TPNW will not by itself immediately eliminate any nuclear weapons. And it does not provide a pathway for Washington and Moscow to overcome their current impasse.

    I don’t see the discussion between advocates and skeptics of the TPNW as being an argument about practicalities or about whether this treaty can work. It is - or it should be - a respectful discussion about deterrence. Nations that face no immediate military threat tend to underestimate the importance that military alliances and military deterrence play for those states that do face actual military threats. Similarly, those states whether in Europe or in Asia that feel reassurance under the nuclear umbrella of the United States tend not to appreciate how strongly concerned other states are about the disastrous humanitarian effects that a nuclear war would cause.

    What is needed now is a multi-sided discussion on a topic that is easy to define and extremely difficult to resolve: how to guarantee the security of the world and of each nation without resort to nuclear deterrence. This is a discussion that has to bring together not only the idealists and social activists who helped to bring about the TPNW but also the security experts and military leaders who have the responsibility of providing for their nations’ security. It has to bring together not only nuclear-weapon states but those who are allies of nuclear-weapon states and those who feel themselves to be far from any military threat. Given my own experience with the ineffectiveness of the United Nations as a place to discuss such difficult issues, I think it has to start smaller than a conference of 190 countries.

    UN Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda

    Washington and Moscow are not going to lead this discussion. What can the rest of the world do? The UN Secretary General has laid out a comprehensive blueprint on what needs to be done on disarmament issues to provide genuine security for our citizens. I love the document. I’d like to focus in particular on what he says about nuclear disarmament.

    He calls on the United States and Russia to resolve INF compliance concerns, extend New START and pursue additional reductions. He encourages all states to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to negotiate a fissile material cutoff treaty, establish a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, pursue nuclear risk reduction measures, and develop nuclear disarmament verification standards and techniques. He warned that the international community is moving backward on disarmament. “Let us all work together to bring new urgency to achieve the universal goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said while unveiling his agenda at the University of Geneva in late May.

    So how do we take forward an idea on which not only everyone in this room but most of the world is united upon?

    Joint Enterprise

    Now is the time to convene a high-level summit approach to help overcome the impasse on nuclear disarmament. Leaders from a core group of states can invite their counterparts - 20 to 30 heads of states of nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon countries - to join a one or two day summit on steps to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. This could be a starting point for ongoing regular disarmament discussions at the expert and ministerial level. As the former foreign minister Kishida argued, this dialogue must be based both on a clear understanding of the devastating impact of nuclear weapon use and an objective assessment of the security concerns of states.

    This is not a new idea. Four of the best American thinkers on such issues - George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn - have been arguing for several years for a Joint Enterprise, a new multilateral effort that would take concrete, practical steps to create the conditions that would make possible genuine nuclear disarmament. As outlined by the “four horsemen,” a Joint Enterprise summit would be supplemented by a joint communique from all participating states and national commitments to work towards disarmament. Unfortunately, the leadership of such an effort will not come from either Washington or Moscow. When the long-time ‘leader of the free world’ is deliberately stepping away from leadership, the other democratic nations of the world must take up the challenge. It’s up to Japan, to Germany, to Canada, to other nations that still believe in multilateralism to get this effort started.

    Discussion of the conditions that would help achieve a nuclear weapons-free world must become as common among world leaders as discussions about tariffs or immigration. The constant raising of this topic is the responsibility of Presidents and Prime Ministers, and it is the duty of citizens of all nations to remind their leaders of this responsibility.

    It is written in Pirkei Avot, a well-known Jewish text, that “you are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Here in Nagasaki, we say again that all of us – elected leaders, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens – “we will not desist from this duty.”

    Thank you and God bless you!

     

     

    Description: 

    Remarks by Thomas Countryman to the International Symposium for Peace in Nagasaki, Japan

    Administration to Review New START


    May 2018
    By Kingston Reif

    The Trump administration plans to conduct an interagency review on whether to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, according to two Trump administration officials.

    Robert Soofer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 11 that the review would begin soon and assess the “pros and cons” of extending the treaty. Expiration of the accord in 2021, without a replacement, would remove numerical caps on U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time since the 1970s.

    Anita Friedt, acting assistant secretary of the state for arms control, verification, and compliance, discusses New START at the Arms Control Association's annual meeting April 19.  (Photo: Terry Atlas/Arms Control Association)Anita Friedt, acting assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, told the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting April 19 that an extension “is something we’re looking at” but that there is no target date for the completion of the review. Friedt added that the administration will take into account Russian compliance with other arms control agreements when weighing whether to extend New START. The United States has accused Russia of being in violation of several arms control treaties and commitments, most notably the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    Signed in 2010, New START requires the United States and Russia each to reduce strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed delivery systems by Feb. 5, 2018, a deadline that both countries met. The treaty also includes a comprehensive suite of monitoring and verification provisions to help ensure compliance with these limits.

    New START is set to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, although, under its terms, it can be extended by up to five years without further approval by the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma if both presidents agree. (See ACT, January/February 2018.)

    But U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the treaty and, in a January 2017 phone call, responded negatively to a suggestion from Russian President Vladimir Putin that their countries work to extend the treaty, according to Reuters. In a March 1 interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, Putin said Russia is willing to have a dialogue with the United States about extending New START. (See ACT, March 2018.)

    Friedt noted that if the treaty expires with nothing to replace it, “then we will have less insight” into Russia’s nuclear forces. But she hinted that the administration will take its time before making its decision. An early extension would not “necessarily help” improve the U.S.-Russian arms control relationship, she said. “We have until 2021, and I think we should look at it
    very carefully.”

    Some Republican members of Congress, such as Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), have expressed concern about a potential extension given Russia’s violation of other arms control agreements and development of new nuclear weapons delivery systems not limited by New START. “Given that set of circumstances, I think we should take a serious second look at extending” New START, he said at an April 11 Senate hearing.

    The House-passed version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act would have prohibited the use of funds to extend New START unless Russia returns to compliance with the INF Treaty. (See ACT, September 2017.) The final version of the authorization bill signed by Trump in December did not include that provision.

    The issue is whether to extend beyond 2021 the treaty capping nuclear arsenals.

    Congress Boosts Missile Defense Spending


    May 2018
    By Kingston Reif

    Lawmakers in March approved a record increase in spending on U.S. ballistic missile defense programs amid concern about the significant progress North Korea made last year to advance its ballistic missile capabilities.

    Congress approved $11.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, an increase of $3.6 billion, or 46 percent, from the Trump administration’s May 2017 initial budget request. The appropriation is the largest Congress has ever provided for the agency after adjusting for inflation.

    At a signing ceremony March 23, President Donald Trump gestures toward the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress, as Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stand behind him. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)The big jump in missile defense spending is part of the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law March 23. Fiscal year 2018 started Oct. 1, 2017, and runs until Sept. 30.

    The law provides all of the extra $4 billion for missile defense programs requested by the administration in a November 2017 amendment to its fiscal year 2018 budget request. (See ACT, December 2017.) Trump said at a news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, last August that he would be increasing the missile defense budget “by many billions of dollars because of North Korea and other reasons having to do with” missile defense.

    The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, designed to protect the United States against a limited intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attack from North Korea or Iran, received $568 million more than the budget request to begin increasing the number of long-range missile defense interceptors by up to 20 beyond the currently deployed 44. Congress doled out $393 million more than requested to accelerate the development of a new, more effective kill vehicle to arm the interceptors.

    In addition, the law provides $1.3 billion in extra funds for the purchase of additional interceptors for the Navy’s Aegis missile defense program and the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense system.

    The Defense Department is still conducting a congressionally mandated review of the U.S. approach to missile defense, which it began one year ago. (See ACT, May 2017.) The review report had originally been slated for completion in February, but the Pentagon now anticipates a May release.

    The omnibus appropriations law is a nearly $1.3 trillion conglomeration of 12 appropriations bills that had to be passed to keep the government operating. For the first six months of the fiscal year, Congress passed a series of continuing resolutions that extended funding for most discretionary governmental programs at the previous year’s levels, although several programs, including some missile programs, received fresh funding at the fiscal year 2018 request level.

    In February, Congress agreed to a new, two-year budget deal that lifted the spending cap on national defense funding for fiscal year 2018, imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, from $549 billion to $629 billion. That act places limits on discretionary spending, including military spending.

    The omnibus law largely supports the Trump administration’s proposed budget request for programs to sustain and rebuild nuclear-armed missiles, submarines, and bombers and their associated nuclear warheads and supporting infrastructure.

    The law includes $1.93 billion for the Navy’s Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program, an increase of $44 million from the request level. The law provides the requested amounts of $216 million for the Air Force’s effort to develop a replacement for the Minuteman III ICBM system, an increase of almost $102 million over 2017 levels and $489 million for a new fleet of nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, almost five times as much as Congress appropriated last year.

    The law funds the nuclear-capable B-21 “Raider” bomber program at $20 million below the budget request level of $2.0 billion.

    Costs of Selected Nuclear Weapons Programs

    B-21 “Raider” Long-Range Bomber
    $2.3 billion: FY 2019 request
    $2.0 billion: FY 2018 appropriation
    $2.7 billion: FY 2019 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Will initially replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers. The current plan is to procure at least 100 new bombers that would begin to enter service in the late 2020s. The Air Force has refused to release the value of the engineering and manufacturing development contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. in October 2015 to develop the B-21, citing classification concerns. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the program at $97 billion (in fiscal year 2017 dollars). The Defense Department attributes 5 percent of the acquisition cost of the program to the nuclear mission.

    Columbia-Class Submarine
    $3.7 billion: FY 2018 request
    $1.9 billion: FY 2018 appropriation
    $3.7 billion: FY 2019 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would replace the current fleet of 14 Ohio-class submarines with 12 new submarines. The first new submarine is scheduled to enter service in 2031. Estimates put the acquisition cost of the program at $128 billion (in then-year dollars).

    B61-12 Warhead Life Extension
    $794 million: FY 2019 request
    $789 million: FY 2018 appropriation
    Not Available: FY 2018 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would refurbish the aging B61 nuclear gravity bomb by consolidating four of the five existing versions into a single weapon known as the B61-12. The first B61-12 is slated to be produced in 2020. The upgraded weapon will be equipped with a new tail-kit guidance assembly. The National Nuclear Security Administration estimates the cost of the life extension program will be $7.6 billion, but the agency’s independent cost estimate is $10 billion (in then-year dollars) and says it will take longer to complete.

    Long-Range Standoff Weapon
    $615 million: FY 2019 request
    $489 million: FY 2018 appropriation
    $620 million: FY 2019 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would develop a replacement for the nuclear-capable AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). The new missile will be compatible with the B-2 and B-52 bombers, as well as the planned B-21. The first missile is slated to be produced in 2026. The current Air Force procurement plan calls for about 1,000 new nuclear-capable missiles, roughly double the size of the existing fleet of ALCMs. The Air Force estimates the program will cost $10.8 billion (in then-year dollars).

    W80-4 Warhead Life Extension
    $655 million: FY 2019 request
    $399 million: FY 2018 appropriation
    Not Available: FY 2019 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would refurbish the aging air-launched cruise missile warhead for delivery on the Long-Range Standoff Weapon. The National Nuclear Security Administration estimates the cost of the program will be between $8 billion and $11.6 billion (in then-year dollars). The first refurbished warhead is scheduled for production in 2025.

    B61-12 Life Extension (Tail Kit Assembly)
    $254 million: FY 2019 request
    $180 million: FY 2018 appropriation
    $231 million: FY 2018 projection (as of FY 2017 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would provide the B61-12 with a guided tail kit for accuracy. The Air Force plans to procure more than 800 tail kits. The program also supports integration of the warhead system on existing long-range bombers and short-range fighter aircraft. The Air Force estimates the tail kit will cost $1.6 billion to develop (in then-year dollars). A 2013 Pentagon
    report put the total life-cycle cost for the program at $3.7 billion.

    Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent System
    $345 million: FY 2019 request
    $216 million: FY 2018 appropriation
    $348 million: FY 2019 projection (as of FY 2018 request)
    Program Description and Cost: Would design, develop, produce, and deploy a replacement for the current Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system and its supporting infrastructure. The system is slated for initial fielding in fiscal year 2028. The Air Force is planning to procure 666 missiles and modernize the supporting Minuteman III infrastructure. The program is estimated to cost $85 billion (in then-year dollars) over 30 years, although the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office projects the cost could be as high as $140 billion.

    Kingston Reif
    Sources: Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Arms Control Association

    The law also provides $10.6 billion for nuclear weapons activities conducted by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.4 billion, or 15 percent, from the fiscal year 2017 appropriation.

    The law does not provide funding for the new nuclear capabilities proposed by the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review report, which was released in February. These “supplements,” as the report describes them, include the near-term deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and, in the longer term, development of a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile.

    The Defense Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, released Feb. 12, includes $22.6 million for developing the missile variant. The department plans to spend a total of $48.5 million on the effort over the next five years.

    The proposed budget for the NNSA, which maintains nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure, initially did not include the funds needed to modify SLBM warheads. (See ACT, April 2018.) But the White House notified Congress on April 13 that it seeks to reallocate $65 million within the NNSA weapons budget to modify a small number of 100-kiloton W76-1 SLBM warheads to detonate at a less powerful yield.

    Congress Moves to End MOX Fuel Project

    Congress in March took a significant step toward terminating the construction of a controversial mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina in favor of a cheaper alternative.

    The plant, located at the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site, is designed to turn 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program into fuel for power reactors. The MOX fuel effort has experienced major cost increases and schedule delays that put the project in jeopardy. The Energy Department has sought to end the program since 2014, but Congress, led by South Carolina’s congressional delegation, has blocked such moves.

    The fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill includes $335 million to continue construction of the MOX fuel facility, an increase of $65 million from the initial budget request. But the bill, which was signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, accepts a provision in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the energy secretary to stop construction if there is a cheaper alternative. (See ACT, December 2017.)

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semiautonomous Energy Department agency, estimates the total construction cost of the MOX fuel project at $17 billion, of which approximately $5.4 billion has been spent. The agency projects the annual cost to operate the facility at $800 million to $1 billion.

    The authorization act requires that a life cycle cost report on the non-MOX fuel alternative be delivered to Congress and that the alternative option “be less than approximately half of the estimated remaining [life cycle] cost” of the MOX fuel program. The Energy Department has identified what it describes as a cheaper alternative, known as “dilute and dispose.”

    The dilute-and-dispose process would down-blend the plutonium with an inert material for direct disposal in a repository. The omnibus bill provides $10 million to continue preliminary work on this option, an increase of $1 million from the initial budget request.

    The NNSA claims that the dilute-and-dispose process can be implemented decades sooner at a much lower cost and with fewer risks. (See ACT, June 2015.) The agency said in 2017 that it planned to spend $500 million to get the alternative approach operational and $400 million annually to implement it.

    Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote in a March 23 blog post that “the ball is in the [Energy Department’s] court to complete its life-cycle cost analyses for both dilute-and-dispose and the remainder of the MOX program as accurately, comprehensively, and quickly as it can.”

    The department “needs to document that conclusion in an iron-clad fashion to protect its analysis from the MOX supporters in Congress who may seek to undermine it,” Lyman added.

    The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request submitted in February would provide $220 million to continue termination of the MOX fuel project and $59 million to support the dilute-and-dispose option.—KINGSTON REIF

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated last fall that the plans Trump inherited from the Obama administration to maintain and upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years would cost $1.2 trillion. (See ACT, December 2017.) The figure does not include the effects of inflation.

    The law includes $2 billion for NNSA fissile material security and nonproliferation efforts, an increase of $206 million above the budget request and $116 million above last year’s appropriation. The additional funding supports stepped-up efforts to secure and eliminate radiological materials that could be used in a so-called dirty bomb and to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium to produce molybdenum-99, a medical isotope.

    This increase could be short-lived. The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request proposes to reduce funding for NNSA programs to secure and eliminate nuclear weapons-usable materials by $115 million, a 26 percent reduction from the omnibus level.

    The spending is part of the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations law.

    High-Level Group Calls for Extension of New START Agreement

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    U.S., European, and Russian Nuclear Experts & Former Officials Issue Urgent Call for Trump and Putin to Take Steps to Avoid a New Nuclear Arms Race

    For Immediate Release: April 18, 2018

    Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104.

    (Washington, Hamburg, Moscow)—With relations between Washington, Moscow, and Europe at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, a distinguished, high-level group is warning that urgent steps need to be taken to contain nuclear risks and tensions and prevent a new nuclear arms race.

    In a statement issued Wednesday, the group notes that: “Existing nuclear arms control agreements are at risk, and both sides are pursuing costly programs to replace and upgrade their Cold War-era strategic nuclear arsenals, each of which exceeds reasonable deterrence requirements. A compliance dispute threatens the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire in 2021 unless extended.”

    Among the signatories to the statement are: Des Browne, former Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, Richard R. Burt, former U.S. negotiator of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; Tom  Countryman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association; retired Major General Dvorkin, a chief researcher at the Center for International Security at the Institute of Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations; Gen. Victor Esin, former Chief of Staff and Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces; Volker Rühe, former Minister of Defense, Germany; Strobe Talbott, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, former Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    The statement was organized by the members of a 21-member German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission, which was established in 2013 to develop proposals to overcome obstacles to sensible arms control agreements and further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.

    Last week at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Robert Soofer announced that the administration will soon “begin a whole-of-government review of the pros and cons of extending the [New START] treaty.”
     
    “Without a positive decision to extend New START, and if the INF Treaty comes to an end, there would be no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear superpowers for the first time since 1972, and the risk of unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition would grow,” the statement warns.

    “Presidents Trump and Putin … should discuss and pursue—on a priority basis—effective steps to reduce nuclear risks and tensions, and to avoid a renewed nuclear arms race,” they write.

    Their recommendations include:

    • Immediate Extension of New START Treaty. This treaty imposes important bounds on the strategic nuclear competition between the two nuclear superpowers. The treaty will by its terms expire February 5, 2021, but can be extended by up to five years by agreement by the two sides. Extending the treaty until February 2026 would preserve its significant security advantages—both the limits and the transparency that is provided by the treaty’s verification measures.
    • Intensified Efforts to Resolve INF Treaty Compliance Questions. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty made a major contribution to European and global security by eliminating all U.S. and Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Unfortunately, the treaty is now at risk, with the United States and Russia exchanging charges of treaty violations, and the U.S. government stating that it will not allow Russia to gain a military advantage through its violation. Currently, no meetings are scheduled to address the issue. A resolution of the dispute requires high-level leadership from the White House and the Kremlin.
    • Maintaining a Regular Dialogue on Strategic Stability. U.S. and Russian officials held a round of strategic stability talks in September 2017 but they postponed a follow-up round that was to be held earlier this year. They should make that dialogue a continuing and regular part of the U.S.-Russian agenda.
    • Sustained Military-to-Military Dialogue on Key Issues. Over the past five years, the instances of U.S. and NATO military aircraft and warships and Russian military aircraft and warships operating in close proximity to one another have increased dramatically. NATO has deployed ground forces to the Baltic states and Poland, putting them in closer proximity to Russian ground forces. U.S. and Russian forces also operate in close proximity in Syria. The risk of accidents and miscalculations that could escalate to a full-fledged armed conflict is growing.

    The full statement is available online in English and in Russian.

    Description: 

    U.S., European, and Russian Nuclear Experts & Former Officials Issue Urgent Call for Trump and Putin to Take Steps to Avoid a New Nuclear Arms Race

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