October 29, 2013
By Leigh Munsil
The Pentagon plans to make a case Tuesday for spending more than $8 billion to modernize part of its arsenal of decades-old nuclear weapons, but critics say that would be a waste of money.
Disarmament groups have seized on the issue, saying that it isn’t clear whether the U.S. would need its 1960s and 70s-era B61 bombs for much longer. And they’re pointing out that the nuclear warhead refurbishment is too expensive for a downsized Defense Department, which they hope will swing House Republicans in their favor.
“The B61 life extension program is the most ambitious and expensive nuclear warhead refurbishment program in the history of the National Nuclear Security Administration,” said Kingston Reif, the director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The issue here, what has [the NNSA] and the Pentagon very concerned, is that Congress has not rubber-stamped this.”
On Tuesday, the burden falls on NNSA and DoD officials to make the case to the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee that modernization of these warheads is essential to U.S. national security, and should continue to be even in the budget downturn.
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