President Obama is not the first or only Chief Executive to support in principle the idea of a nuclear-free world. But his Administration has clearly put the process on a fast track with an agreement between Washington and Moscow to write a new treaty to substantially reduce those two nation’s nuclear arsenals.
Even if the abolition of nuclear weapons is an achievable goal it will take time, probably decades, for that ambition to be realized. In the mean time, this country will have to maintain a viable and credible strategic nuclear force. This means thinking now about the scientific and industrial capabilities that support our nuclear forces and will have to be there in ten or twenty years as those forces require maintenance or replacement.
The truth is that the scientific and industrial base to support U.S. strategic forces is not in good shape. The recent final report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, warned that the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, including the ability to design new weapons as well as maintain the existing ones, is in poor shape. Without attention a similar fate could befall the industrial base needed to support existing strategic delivery systems or design new ones. The cancellation of the next-generation bomber program means no one will be working on a new design for years to come. This country is neither producing long-range ballistic missiles nor designing new ones. When there is no work, skills atrophy and the ability to do specialized industrial production simply vanishes. The Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review needs to look seriously at the threats to the required industrial base.
Find Archived Articles: