To the Editor:
How many nuclear weapons does it take to make us “safe?” According to a recent report by the Federation of American Scientists, the world’s combined stockpile of nuclear warheads is more than 17,000, of which 4,300 warheads are operational, and 2,800 belonging to the U.S. and Russia are on high alert.
President Obama has articulated a “vision of a world without nuclear weapons,” but doesn’t expect this to happen during his lifetime. He says “we have more than we need” — a gross understatement, since the next leading nuclear threat, China, has only 50 that could reach the U.S.
Despite this dangerous — and costly — overkill, the U.S. intends to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the years to come enhancing its already-bloated nuclear arsenal. The Navy plans to build 12 new nuclear submarines ($5.6 billion apiece), each to carry 16 ballistic missiles, with four or five nuclear warheads apiece — each one 20 times as powerful as the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima. In addition, the cost of replacing our nuclear delivery systems will top $100 billion and require another $300 billion over the next 10 years to keep them operational. Wouldn’t this be a good place to cut the defense budget and reduce the deficit?
A portion of this astronomical bill is the proposed new Uranium Processing Facility to be built just over the mountain from us at the Y-12 Nuclear Plant in Oak Ridge — at an estimated cost of $4.5 to $7.5 billion (the price tag keep going up). Now doesn’t this make us feel real safe knowing that 80 warheads a year are to be produced in our backyard? If this worries us, though, we can drive over to Oak Ridge this Saturday, April 6, to join friends of the Oak Ridge Environment and Peace Alliance (OREPA) in saying “NO!” to such idiocy — 12:30 p.m. at Bissell Park for the one-mile march, 2 p.m. at Y-12 for the rally.
We complain about “rogue states” like Iran and North Korea posing a threat to world peace because they insist on developing a nuclear capability. But when we agree in the 2010 START Treaty with Russia to reduce our thousands of warheads by just a few hundred, while intimidating Iran with severe sanctions and North Korea with “war games” and a weapons buildup on their border, isn’t this likely to be seen by the rest of the world as the height of hypocrisy? How would we feel, for example, if another country — say China — were to impose sanctions on our economy and conduct “war games” in the Caribbean in an effort to force us to destroy our warheads in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty we have already signed but never implemented?
Hope you can make it to Oak Ridge on the 6th!