A sobering new report warns of growing nuclear threats to U.S. national security posed by the deterioration of the nation’s own nuclear arsenal just as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are all upgrading their arsenals.
The report documents how Russia and China are aggressively implementing nuclear force modernization, “likely made possible with covert and low-yield nuclear testing.”
Russia and China are now deploying new nuclear ICBMs, new nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, new nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missiles and new ballistic missile submarines. Both are developing still newer versions of these systems, along with bombers, including stealth bombers.
Dr. Mark Schneider, author of the report for the Center for Security Policy and a longtime Pentagon official with expertise in strategic forces, describes the huge increase in numbers and sophistication of the Russian and Chinese missile arsenals and compares this with the deterioration of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to have 8,000 warheads deployed by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers.
These new warheads will include large strategic warheads and thousands of low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow’s new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict.
Russia is also fortifying underground facilities for command and control during a nuclear conflict.
In contrast to Russia’s vastly upgraded position, most of the U.S. systems date back to the Reagan era, with some going as far back as the Eisenhower administration.
“The advanced ages of U.S. deterrent systems at their planned replacement dates create the possibility of the loss of critical capability if there are unexpected problems within systems or delays with existing systems,” Schneider writes.
His report notes that the U.S. no longer has the capability to produce tritium, a vital nuclear weapons ingredient. He explains that the average age of a U.S. nuclear weapon – 35 years – represents a serious threat to the U.S. nuclear arsenal because the estimated life span of the nuclear fuel in these weapons is 45 to 60 years.
Schneider also discusses how modernization plans for U.S. bombers and ICBMs are years behind schedule and face far more advanced Russian and Chinese air defense and missile defense systems.
Dr. Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the United States Nuclear Strategy Forum, which is an advisory board to Congress, said he agrees wholeheartedly with the findings of the report.
“I agree completely with Mark Schneider’s excellent analysis,” Pry told WND. “In addition to the aged condition of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, it is technologically obsolete compared to new generations of Russian nuclear weapons based on new designs.”
The U.S. stopped designing new nuclear weapons more than 25 years ago, and it has been patching-up weapons designed three decades ago or more, he said.
“Russia and China never stopped improving their nuclear weapons. Russia has Super-EMP weapons, mini-neutron warheads that are ‘clean,’ meaning they produce no fallout for battlefield use, and other new generation nuclear weapons – at least some of which may be unknown to us,” Pry explained.
“We face the prospect of nuclear technological surprise by our potential adversaries that may embolden them to aggression,” Pry added. “Indeed, Russia and China are already aggressors, against Ukraine and in the South China Sea, no doubt because the U.S. nuclear deterrent is no longer what it used to be.”
Dr. Schneider’s article is especially timely given President Trump’s statement that he wants “modernization and total rehabilitation” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and his administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which is expected to be completed in early 2018. This review is expected to present a strategy to rebuild America’s nuclear deterrent and reverse the damage done to it by the Obama administration’s naïve and neglectful national security policies.
Frank Gaffney, president of CSP, said Dr. Schneider’s paper has produced a vital analysis of “a dire threat to our national security that the mainstream media and the foreign policy establishment refuses to discuss: how America’s nuclear weapons, strategic bombers and ICBMs are in urgent need of revitalization just as the nuclear programs of Russia and China are surging and we are facing new nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.”
Gaffney said he urges White House officials and Congress to read carefully Dr. Schneider’s analysis as they consider crucial decisions over the next few months on how to rebuild the U.S. nuclear deterrent that is so vital to national defense.
The Center for Security Policy and Drs. Schneider and Pry are not the only ones sounding an alarm.
In March, Foreign Policy magazine put out a similar warning in an article titled “America’s Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure Is Crumbling.”
The magazine warned that the infrastructure that supports the nation’s nuclear arsenal is “crumbling” to “alarming levels.” President Trump inherited an arsenal that has a backlog of $3.7 million in deferred essential repairs.
Much of the infrastructure that supports the U.S. nuclear weapons programs, including labs, production facilities and weapons storage complexes themselves were built six decades ago.
“Leaky roofs, faulty ventilation, and encounters with snakes and rodents are par for the course at U.S. nuclear weapon facilities,” FP reported.
As far back as 2012 the Washington Post reported that the U.S. nuclear arsenal was “ready for an overhaul.” But under the Obama administration, that never happened.