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Irresponsible spending on nuclear arsenal

Terrence Clark, M.D.Lewis Patrie, M.D.Robert Howarth, M.S.E.OPINION 3:10 p.m. EST December 19, 2014

Do you know that our U.S. government is planning to tax us for about $1 trillion over the next 30 years to produce 80 new nuclear bombs each year? A September 2014 New York Times article reported our president “laid out his atomic refurbishment plans, which the Congressional Budget Office now estimates will cost $355 billion over the next decade. But that is just the start. The price tag will soar after 10 years as missiles, bombers and submarines made in the last century reach the end of their useful lives and replacements are built ... It estimated the total cost of the nuclear enterprise over the next three decades at roughly $900 billion to $1.1 trillion.”

The U.S. 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 private experts for the next 50 to 100 years to constitute deterrence against attack by a hostile nuclear power.
Physicians for Social Responsibility has projected the likely scenario of the horrendous effects of a nuclear war that launched less than a hundred nuclear weapons. There would be thousands of immediate deaths from blast, heat approaching the temperature of the sun, and radiation. Then for several years the sun’s rays would not warm earth due to suspended soot. This would cause a nuclear winter over much of earth. Crops would fail. There would be mass starvation and it is estimated that there would be over a billion deaths.
So why produce more such weapons of death and destruction?

The U.S. doesn’t need more nuclear deterrence — we already have a surplus, with ever-­increasing costs to maintain these weapons responsibly. This is partly driven by pork barrel subsidization or “corporate welfare” to the weapons contractors and arms merchants that lobby heavily and are rewarded handsomely. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently requested several billion dollars to upgrade the nuclear weapons management program which is in a state of decay. Colin Powell has stated that nuclear weapons are useless and they should never be used because of the devastation to the planet and all of life.

Six years ago, former Secretaries of State Schultz and Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Chair Nunn advocated for a series of action steps to reduce the danger of nuclear catastrophe, including substantial negotiated reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. It is of utmost importance that our two nations work to restore relationships which have soured over recent years. This has not only led to a breakdown of diplomatic relations between our countries, but has increased the danger of conflict. It is essential that we return to the bargaining table for the sake of humankind.

In the early months of 2015 the new Congress will be asked to authorize billions of dollars for nuclear bomb production as part of the proposed near trillion dollar nuclear weapons program over the next 30 years. If this is approved, will our taxes be increased? That’s not something the new Congress would embrace — more likely funds would be carved out of social programs, education, healthcare and Social Security. Remember, there’s no free money and the taxpayer, the people, must pay.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in a Dec. 3, 2014 Washington Post article, flatly stated that nuclear weapons are a financial burden and a threat to global security.
She added that “the current level of spending on nuclear weapons is unnecessary and unsustainable” and “we are holding far more nuclear weapons than are necessary, and the cost is undermining other national security priorities”.

Move to contact your Congressional representatives, House and Senate — and tell them not to approve more money for more nuclear weapons that we don’t need. We citizens must speak up or pay up.

Go to for House representatives, for senators’ contact information.

Terrence Clark, M.D., Lewis Patrie, M.D. and Robert Howarth, M.S.E., are members of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Mission Statement

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.