The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 22      June 7, 2010

White House lays out plans
to strengthen nuclear threat
(front page)
In April and May the Barack Obama administration laid out its “nuclear posture” to strengthen the effectiveness of Washington’s arsenal, at the same time maximizing pressure on the governments of Iran and North Korea to forsake development of their own nuclear programs.

The White House plan includes expanding funds to modernize Washington’s nuclear weapons, development of an anti-ballistic missile system, and a program to field nonnuclear long-range missiles capable of striking any target in the world within one hour.

The Obama administration intends to spend $180 billion over the next decade to refurbish and improve nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and nuclear weapon manufacturing capabilities.

Along with promoting the modernization plan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been urging Congress to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiated with the Russian government in April.

Clinton told Congress the New START negotiations have helped win agreement from Beijing and Moscow for a new draft of economic sanctions against Iran and “strengthens our hand as we seek to hold these [Tehran and Pyongyang] and other governments accountable.”

The pact would limit the number of actively deployed nuclear warheads on both sides from 2,200 under the previous START pact to 1,550. Washington and Moscow hold 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The warhead reduction is less than claimed, as the treaty’s new method of calculating counts one bomber jet, which can hold up to 20 nuclear bombs, as one. The pact does not require destruction of any warheads, only the transfer of some from delivery systems that make them immediately deployable to an active stockpile.

At the opening of the May 3-28 Nuclear Non-Proliferation conference held at the United Nations, the U.S. government released a report declaring it has 5,113 nuclear warheads. In addition to this, Washington holds more than 4,500 other U.S. warheads in “inactive reserve.”

The START treaty places no restrictions on the U.S. program to develop an antiballistic missile system, designed to restore Washington’s ability to use its nuclear arsenal unchecked. But Moscow has voiced its opposition to the development of interceptor missiles and said it would withdraw from the treaty if it determined the system posed enough of a strategic threat. “It’s the latest chapter in a long line of Russian objections to our proceeding with missile defense, and frankly I think it’s because … we can afford it and they can’t,” Gates told Congress.

The White House has requested nearly $10 billion for ABM development for the coming fiscal year, an increase of $700 million.

Much of the White House plan was laid out in its “Nuclear Posture Review,” published in early April. It states that the U.S. government will continue to refrain from nuclear testing and “will seek ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty”—a pledge Obama made last year as part of a strategy to pressure other governments to abstain from testing.

By official count, Washington conducted more than 1,050 nuclear tests up until 1992. This is more than the combined total of all other countries to date. With unmatched scientific knowledge and expertise acquired through this testing, along with other advances, the U.S. military is in a distinctive position to improve its nuclear technology without live testing.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review does not rule out nuclear first strikes. At the same time, it pledges not to target countries that are “in compliance” with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—a threat and a carrot aimed at Iran and North Korea. Under imperialist pressure led by Washington, the two have been denied their right to develop nuclear technology by the provisions of the 1968 NPT treaty itself.

While maintaining its nuclear dominance, the White House is simultaneously accelerating the military’s program to develop a hypersonic intercontinental missile fitted with a massive conventional warhead capable of striking a target anywhere in the world within one hour. The Obama administration has requested $240 million this year for development of a hypersonic glider that would be launched by an ICBM, with expectations of “initial deployment” by 2015.

The weapon would give the U.S. government a very fast non-nuclear strike option. At the same time, military leaders argue, it could be used without the same political consequences of a nuclear attack, and therefore would offer a more credible threat.

Congress rejected a request for $127 billion from the Bush administration for the technology in 2007, providing only $5 million for research out of concern that Moscow or Beijing would misread a launch of such a missile for a nuclear weapon, possibly triggering a retaliatory response.
Related articles:
Washington, Seoul threaten N. Korea
S. Korea gov’t imposes trade sanctions
Okinawans rally to close U.S. military facilities
Washington pushes new sanctions against Iran
U.S. hands off Korea!  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home