March 16, 2015
Dear Member of Congress,
We are writing to urge you to sign on to the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act of 2015. The legislation’s lead sponsors are Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
Maintaining the U.S. nuclear force within increasingly tight budgets will require the United States to make difficult but necessary choices in the years ahead. Over the next several decades, the Pentagon is seeking to replace or rebuild all three legs of the nuclear triad, including submarines, bombers, missiles and their associated nuclear warheads at cost that could reach $1 trillion. Not only is this price tag likely unaffordable given anticipated budget constraints, but by the time these weapons are rebuilt, the country may face a different national security environment. Given this, it would be prudent to reexamine plans to overspend on nuclear weapons now.
The SANE Act would provide flexibility in planning for the future and help ensure spending to maintain a bloated nuclear arsenal doesn’t shortchange more pressing defense priorities. For instance, it would free up resources for the Air Force by:
- Canceling the development of the new Air-launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), a highly redundant and unnecessary weapon given future plans for a new stealth bomber and upgrades to ICBMs and SLBMs with similar stand-off capabilities;
- Deferring production of new strategic bombers to 2025; and
- Deferring refurbishment of the ICBM force to 2025.
Billions in savings within the Navy would be found by deferring production of the new strategic submarines and scaling back the planned buy from 12 to eight. The bill would also scale back overly ambitious, costly, and unnecessary warhead life extension programs.
The savings found in the SANE Act could be realized without reducing U.S. nuclear warheads below the level set by the 2010 New START Treaty.
Recent reports underscore the growing costs of maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal. According to the Congressional Budget Office (1) between 2015 and 2024 the United States will spend about $350 billion on our nation’s nuclear forces.(2) By 2042, the United States is expected to spend up to $1 trillion maintaining, modernizing, and replacing the triad.(3)A study by the Arms Control Association shows that the United States can save up to $70 billion over the next decade alone by tailoring nuclear delivery system and warhead modernization plans to 21st century security needs. As that report explains, “the size of the U.S. nuclear force exceeds what the U.S. military believes is necessary to deter nuclear attack against the United States and its allies.”(4) In this way, the SANE Act takes seriously the warning from the 2014 National Defense Panel Review of the Quadrennial Defense Review that current plans to recapitalize the triad are “unaffordable” and need to be reconfigured.
The SANE Act would allow the United States to spend limited defense dollars on the most pressing needs. Only a more balanced approach to our nation’s nuclear forces will keep America safe and secure.
Again, we encourage your co-sponsorship of this fiscally and strategically sound legislation. To sign on, please contact Steven Hoffenson with Senator Markey’s office. For questions about this letter, please contact Erica Fein at Women’s Action for New Directions at (202) 544-5055 x 2605 or email@example.com.
Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist
Angela Canterbury, Executive Director
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
William Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project
Center for International Policy
Tony Fleming, Campaigns Director
Citizens for Global Solutions
David Culp, Legislative Representative
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability
Green Cross International (Mikhail Gorbachev, Founding Chairman)
Robert Naiman, Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy
Mavis Belisle, coordinator
Anna Galland, Executive Director
Doug Hall, Executive Director
National Priorities Project
Marge Clark, BVM
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Catherine Thomasson, MD
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Jeanne Marie Dauray
National Issue Teams Coordinator
Progressive Democrats of America
Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H.
President and CEO
The Rachel Carson Council, Inc.
Women’s Action for New Directions
Joni Arends, Executive Director
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Santa Fe, NM
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions
National Green Party, Washington, DC
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Oak Ridge, TN
Peace Action West
The Peace Farm, Amarillo, TX
Coordinator, Nuclear Nexus
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, CO
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director
Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs), Livermore, CA
Congressional Budget Office, “The Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2015-2024,” Washington, D.C.; January 2015.
The cost over 10 years is $570 billion when including indirect costs associated with the arsenal such as building and operating missile defenses, dismantling retired weapons, and legacy cleanup at shuttered nuclear sites
Jon Wolfsthal, Jeffrey Lewis, Marc Quint, “The Trillion Dollar Triad,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Monterey, CA, January 2014. In addition, the National Defense Panel Review of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review estimates 30-year costs of nuclear weapons at between $600 billion and $1 trillion.
Arms Control Association, “The Unaffordable Arsenal: Reducing the Costs of the Bloated U.S. Nuclear Stockpile,”Washington, D.C., October 2014.