President Obama's proposal for a nuclear armed cruise missile must be stopped. The United States does not need to spend more money on nukes, which would encourage an arms race.
Instead we need to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban all nuclear test explosions. It's unbelievable this treaty has not been approved yet, especially when there is no need for the U.S. to test explode nukes.
Developing nuclear weapons, like Obama's proposed cruise missile, propels us into a dangerous competition in armaments with Russia, China and others. Do we really want to risk Cold War reruns? We should be advancing forward to an age of no nukes. We especially need nuclear cooperation with China if we want to influence their neighbor North Korea to abandon its arsenal.
Estimates already have the United States spending about a trillion dollars on nukes over the next 3 decades. Spending on nukes comes at the expense of every other program integral to the well being and security of our nation.
Spending on nuclear weapons means less money for education, medicine, or food for the hungry. It means less resources for helping the record number of refugees globally. How can we let a crisis like this, which impacts many nations, have low funding?
The more you waste on nukes the less for conventional military forces and intelligence gathering. You also have less resources for securing nuclear material from terrorists or converting to peaceful uses.
Today's threats are not war with Russia or China. That was yesterday's threats. We are now more at risk from terrorist groups like ISIS. It's the danger of one of these groups getting a hold of a nuclear weapon that we should be worried about. That is one of the key reasons nuclear disarmament is a goal we must pursue.
If we can get a global ban on nuclear weapons testing, that would help set the stage for deeper nuclear arms reductions. Achieving an end to nuclear testing has been a goal pursued since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
Ike and his successor John F. Kennedy helped to produce a limited test ban which prohibited atmospheric, underwater and outerspace nuke tests. But now it's time to get the comprehensive test ban done (including underground tests) and finish Ike and JFK's journey, one which Democrats and Republicans have both shared.
The goal of ending nuclear testing goes back to the days of President Eisenhower and President Kennedy (see top video). Today, advocates from around the world are calling on eight remaining states to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
What has prevented Senate ratification of the CTBT is the fear that nuclear weapons cannot be maintained without test explosions. In addition there has been some concern of verification of the treaty.
The International Monitoring System of the CTBT has detected all of North Korea's nuclear tests. Once the treaty is in force even more detection stations will be set up. Any nation trying to holding a nuclear test in secret is considered extremely unlikely. If even possible, it would require massive resources and technology for very little or no gain.
As far as maintaining the nuclear arsenal, that can be done with the Stockpile Stewardship program. These labs have done so since 1992, when the U.S. last carried out a nuclear test. Vice President Joe Biden says "our labs know more about our arsenal today than when we used to explode our weapons on a regular basis. With our support, the labs can anticipate potential problems and reduce their impact on our arsenal."
Does any Senator really want to resume nuclear test explosions? It would be such a dangerous, costly, provocative and unnecessary act. What they would need is assurance of proper investment in the Stockpile Stewardship and international monitoring system as a safeguard for passing the treaty. President Obama says he does support the CTBT, so he would sign on to Senate approval.
U.S. leadership on ending nuke testing would encourage other holdout nations like China to ratify and help start negotiations to reduce stockpiles worldwide. There are eight holdout nations on the test ban including the United States, Israel, Iran, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Egypt.
Israel has said it expects to ratify. Imagine if the United States, Israel and Iran could ratify at once. That would be a great step to follow the Iran nuclear deal. If India and Pakistan ratified the treaty think how that could help relations between the two nuclear armed rivals.
The nations of the world have much in common when it comes to the threat of nukes. Nuclear terrorism, accidental launch and the massive costs of the weapons are dangers shared by all. Nuclear weapons elimination is in the interests of every nation.
President Obama's nuclear spending proposals must be reined in by the Congress. We need instead more nuclear diplomacy. President Ronald Reagan's dream of a world free from nuclear weapons is one we must continue to pursue. A good first step is ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.