TRUMP BUDGET REQUESTS MASSIVE INCREASE TO NUCLEAR SPENDING
If it was not clear already, the Trump administration’s enormous new $740 billion defense budget request makes it crystal clear — they are fully committed to increasing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy. While funding for key conventional programs decreases under the request, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would get a spending boost of nearly 20 percent. It also looks like they want to build a brand new warhead. At the same time, the President requested a 22 percent decrease in funding for diplomatic programs. This is backwards: We should be spending more on the programs designed to prevent conflict and less on the weapons of conflict.
While Congress will no doubt make a lot of changes to the proposed budget, the Trump administration’s plans are incredibly concerning; increasing nuclear weapons spending and building should be a relic of the Cold War. As Executive Director John Tierney told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “Taxpayers in 2020 should not be forced to pay for a ticket back to nuclear weapons policies of the 1980s.”
This is not only a domestic issue. Senior Science Fellow Philip Coyle told The Daily Beast that this spending request will likely have international repercussions. “From an arms-control point of view, broadcasting that NNSA is trying to double the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, when it is extremely unlikely that NNSA could do it, will bring all of the blowback you’d expect from Russia and China, and no benefits to U.S. security at home.”
Policy Analyst Geoff Wilson reminds us why we certainly don’t need more nuclear weapons. “We maintain a total nuclear weapons arsenal of some 4,000 active weapons. Perhaps instead of doubling down on an outrageous new nuclear weapons spending plan, we should reengage in our commitments to reduce these weapons through international arms control agreements and treaties.”
You can learn more about the President’s defense budget request in the Center’s briefing book. For a little perspective on just how much money $740 billion is, check out this infographic.
The budget news is even more concerning given the potential end of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) on February 5, 2021. The United States and Russia can agree to extend it for another five years. If they don’t, there will no longer be any restraints on the two biggest nuclear arsenals in the world. We are working hard to inform lawmakers and the public about the necessity of extending the treaty, especially given that current policies in Washington and Moscow seem to be pushing us toward a new nuclear arms race.
NORTH KOREA TALKS “DEAD”
CNN reported this week that President Trump does not want another North Korean summit with Kim Jong-un this year and talks are essentially “dead.” It has been nearly one year since the last summit between the two leaders, and tensions have escalated in the past few months, with Kim stating recently that it will no longer be bound to a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing. This news was a factor in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s recent unveiling of its 2020 Doomsday Clock, which is now at the closest it’s ever been to “midnight.”
In light of that fact, Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell told North Korea News and The Diplomat that while it is a long process, increased diplomacy is the only answer. “After various interactions that produced photos and little else, the United States and North Korea have frittered away months and months of valuable time and tensions are again on the rise. It doesn’t have to be this way. Leaders in Washington and Pyongyang need to get back to the negotiating table and start taking small steps to stabilize the region. Those small steps can lead to a larger deal, but that will take patience and discipline.”
HELP OUT THIS CANDIDATE SEEKING TO UNSEAT A HAWK
The Council typically stays out of primary races, but we have endorsed Marie Newman in Illinois’ third district in hopes she will unseat the hawkish Dan Lipinski, who voted against the Iran nuclear deal and supported the Trump administration’s efforts to expand U.S. nuclear capabilities. Newman, who came close to defeating Lipinski last year, has the support of several progressive organizations and has a good chance of beating him in their March 17 primary. Please make a donation to her campaign.
STAFF PROFILE: MEET GEOFF WILSON, POLITICAL DIRECTOR
One of our newest employees is Geoff Wilson, Political Director for the Council and Policy Analyst for the Center. The San Clemente, California, native says the best part of his job is getting to work with Members of Congress and political candidates to champion our issues in Congress. Learn more
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