See H.R.1086 and S.401 Hold the Lyne (Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive) Act. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) have sponsored legislation to prohibit the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy from using funds for the research and development, production, or deployment of the Trident D5 low-yield nuclear warhead.
See H.R.1231 and S.312 the Prevention of the Arms Race Act of 2019. Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have sponsored legislation to restrict the appropriation of funds for the procurement, flight testing, or deployment of missiles banned by the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty).
It is not necessary for U.S. security to spend the planned $1.7 trillion to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal—bombers, missiles, and submarines—and feed a new arms race. The U.S. spending plan will only encourage other states to believe that they also need to develop or improve their own nuclear arsenals, leading to dangerous proliferation and an accelerating arms race. As former Secretary of Defense William Perry says, “There is only one way to win an arms race: Refuse to run.”
Both the US and Russia possess massive nuclear overkill. China has had just 300 nuclear weapons and has for decades considered that number to be sufficient. The U.S. and Russia now have over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons—13,000 nuclear warheads and about 8,000 active weapons. Both countries share responsibility to move toward low numbers of nuclear weapons.
Our security will be increased by massive cuts in our nuclear arsenals and by eliminating certain classes of weapons. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry and others, including General James Cartwright, former head of U.S. Strategic Command, argue that the United States should do away with its land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, because, as noted in step 3, the ICBMs are the weapon system most likely to be fired in response to a false alarm and cause an apocalyptic, accidental nuclear war. And they are no longer needed to deter a nuclear strike from Russia, which can be achieved by the two other elements of the nuclear triad—submarines and bombers. This can be a key focus in reexamining the $1.7 trillion US spending plan to enhance our nuclear arsenal.
Nuclear security expert Bruce Blair and colleagues Jessica Sleight and Emma Claire Foley provide a realistic goal to shift the U.S. to a wiser, safer, cheaper Alternative Nuclear Posture. Blair argues that the United States should scrap its deterrence-plus-warfighting strategy and thereby eliminate its massive-attack plans enabled by hair-trigger forces ready for preemption or launch on warning.
“Our recommendations will strengthen control over nuclear operations and reduce the risk of their use by design or accident while maintaining a robust and stable deterrent force and promoting deep reductions in the world’s nuclear arsenal… This would move us to a deterrence-only posture and take a major step on a path to eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.”
- Dr. Bruce G. Blair
The Alternative Nuclear Posture Review shows how we can take steps to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile by 75%, including elimination of land-based ballistic missiles (ICBMS), cancellation of most enhancement measures in the current $1.7 trillion modernization program—and still maintain a deterrent (a highly survivable second strike force) through 5 new strategic submarines and 40 heavy strategic nuclear bombers.
The size of the U.S. operational nuclear stockpile would shrink from 2,000 to 650, a two-thirds reduction that could be instituted independent of Russian stockpile levels without any diminution of the deterrent effect. This would move us to a deterrence-only posture and take a major step on a path to eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.