After the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, nuclear weapons did, too -- without going away. The American and Russian arsenals, and the nuclear geography that underlay them, remained in place, just largely unremarked upon. In the meantime, the weaponry itself spread.
If Congress wants to cut the deficit intelligently, it should be finding ways to eliminate unnecessary and poorly managed projects in the nuclear weapons complex, not shielding nuclear programs from budget reductions.
The beleaguered Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) program at the Savannah River Site was targeted for possible cancellation last fall, but ongoing discussions resulted in a recent lifeline offered by a top Department of Energy official, which appears to have been accepted by the White House.
Here we go again. With the economy showing faint signs of life and their positions on the social issues alienating most moderates, the leading Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, have returned to the elixir of warmongering to once again sway the gullible masses.
So, how much does the U.S. spend on nuclear weapons? The only way to know for sure is for the administration to be more transparent about its nuclear spending, and to make a complete, detailed budget available to the public.
War always has consequences, although not all of them are initially obvious. In war, as Carl von Clausewitz noted, the only thing you can determine is who fires the first shot. After that it is all fog and plans gone awry.
The light shining on the safety of nuclear energy as a result of the Japanese nuclear crisis has been of such powerful wattage that it's even flushing safety issues with nuclear weapons labs and manufacturing facilities out of hiding.
"The Great Atomic Power" was first recorded in 1952, the year that the hydrogen bomb was first tested. The song may have provided some comfort for those listeners aware that the nuclear arms race was at its height.
We're under the gun: we need to make use of the nuclear taboo as a springboard to disarmament before its expiration date. But there exists another nuclear taboo against discussing the destruction caused by nuclear weapons.
No matter the short term benefits to security, when the West severs the ties that bind disarmament to nonproliferation, it further undermines the trust of the developing world and long-term prospects for international security.
Whether or not we disarm has no bearing on the plans of states that hope to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. Whether or not disarmament discourages proliferation is immaterial -- it's our only recourse.
Perhaps bewitched by Tea Party-style incoherence, Republicans guided by Jon Kyl have placed themselves in the unlikely position of bucking the national defense establishment, to which traditionally they've been joined at the hip.