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A costly love affair with destruction

Robert F. Howarth,
GUEST COLUMNIST Citizen-Times
2:59 p.m. EDT September 25, 2015

Do you know that your U.S. government is planning to tax you for $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next 30 years to pay for producing 80 new nuclear bombs each year at Y-12 Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and building more high-tech platforms to deliver them anywhere in the world? The proposed platforms would include 400 new land-based missiles, 100 new bombers and 20 new missile submarines. This country has 1,500 nuclear missiles on ready alert and another 3,400 in reserve storage. These weapons are deemed usable and reliable by government and civilian experts for the next 50 to 100 years and constitute U.S. deterrence against attack by a foreign nuclear power.

We know now that the horrendous effects of a nuclear war exchange of even one-half of one percent of available nuclear missiles would cause huge losses of life, infrastructure, agriculture and environment. Nuclear bombs today are 30 to 100 times more powerful than the two used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It would plunge our planet into a radioactive nuclear winter, killing 2 billion people over a 10-year period. This would be the suicidal result of MAD, the mutually-assured destruction that served long ago as the deterrence policy of the U.S. and Russia. Today this outdated thinking seems for some to be applicable to any perceived nuclear threat like an off-the-shelf remedy.

So why does our government want to produce so many more killer weapons of death and destruction? It's time we Americans recognize and acknowledge that the military industrial complex has become institutionalized as a permanent part of the U.S. economy despite President Eisenhower's warning words. The U.S. doesn't need more nuclear deterrent we already have a surplus of it and it's becoming more and more costly to maintain it responsibly and safely. Furthermore, more than 100 nations worldwide favor outlawing nuclear weapons as has been done with deadly biological gases. Of course, the nuclear weapon-holding countries led by the U.S. are not willing to do this at present for both security and economic reasons.
The Iran deal actions speak louder than words it's not a perfect deal, but an important step in the right direction is the consensus of most leaders and experts nationally and internationally. For the U.S. to commit to a new nuclear buildup for the next 30 years only stokes a fire for a nuclear arms race with Iran and perhaps other countries. We in the U.S. must build down nuclear, follow treaties we have signed, not increase our investment in suicide.

If the proposed 30-year commitment is approved by Congress will they also approve raising taxes to pay for it? Not likely for a Republican controlled Congress and certainly not on the rich more likely the funds would be carved out of social programs, education, health, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, incentives for sustainable energy development and, of course, Social Security. Remember, there's no free money and the taxpayers, the people, must ultimately pay, one way or the other.

Move to contact your congressional representatives, House and Senate: tell them not to approve money for more nukes that are an investment in suicide. Find out what your favorite candidates for offices think about this. Citizens must wise up, speak up or pay up, not just in taxes, but perhaps with our lives.

Robert F. Howarth, a retired engineer who lives in Asheville, is a member of Western North Carolina Physicians for Social Responsibility and of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.

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