The Honorable John Boehner
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Dear Congressional Leaders,
Our bloated nuclear weapons budget defies fiscal reality. Our oversized nuclear weapons arsenal fails to reflect historical reality. Our spending on radioactive relics of the past requires a reality check. We won the Cold War. The Berlin Wall fell. The threats we face today have dramatically changed in the past two decades. At a time when our need for fiscal responsibility has never been greater, we must cut our nuclear weapons budget.
Unchecked spending on nuclear weapons threatens to push us over the fiscal cliff. It imperils both our national and economic security. It makes us less safe by preventing investment in the systems that our soldiers need most. It jeopardizes our future by forcing cuts to programs that fund life-saving medical research, train teachers, and ensure seniors and the most vulnerable receive essential healthcare.
The Ploughshares Fund estimates that the U.S. is projected to spend over $640 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next ten years. At a time when the government must tighten its belt, we cannot continue to spend at these levels. We can save hundreds of billions of dollars by restructuring the U.S. nuclear program for the 21st century.
We know there is plenty of waste in the nuclear weapons budget. We are refurbishing a nuclear bomb that no one wants. We are building a Uranium processing facility we do not need. We are planning for a new nuclear bomber when the ones we have will last for decades. In fact, just one nuclear bomb life extension program will cost $10 billion for an estimated 400 weapons. At that price, we could buy each bomb’s weight in solid gold. And this would be a better investment. Gold appreciates, while money spent on this nuclear bomb is money down the drain.
Cuts to nuclear weapons programs upwards of $100 billion over the next ten years are possible. Specific programs have been identified that can be decreased in scope or eliminated to bring our nuclear forces into better alignment with our 21st century needs. Such cuts should be included in any final deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid. Cut nuclear-armed B-52 and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security. Invest in the research and education that will drive our future prosperity, not in weapons for a war we already won.
Edward J. Markey