Sen. Markey leads call to cancel new U.S. nuclear air-launched missile

A United States air launched cruise missile

Senator Markey sends letter to President Obama calling new missile destabalising.

Letter is endorsed by six other U.S. senators.

 

PNND Co-President Senator Edward J. Markey today (December 15, 2015) led a group of seven Senators in a letter to President Obama urging him to cancel the planned new nuclear air-launched cruise missile. Recent reports indicate that the administration plans to develop 1,000 to 1,100 new nuclear cruise missiles, which are projected to cost between $20 to $30 billion to build.

In the letter, the Senators note that this new nuclear weapon does not reflect U.S. current national security needs, is redundant with existing nuclear and conventional options, and could lead to dramatic escalation and potential devastating miscalculations with other nuclear-armed states.

The senators tell President Obama 'In your 2009 speech in Prague you made it clear the United States would put an end to Cold War thinking and "reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy." Indeed this new cruise missile appears to be designed specifically for improved nuclear war-fighting capabilities. That is a dangerous direction for our nuclear deterrent and counter to the goals you set out in Prague.'

'Building a new nuclear cruise missile would make our country less safe,' write the Senators. 'Nuclear armed cruise missiles are destabilizing because it is impossible to distinguish conventional from nuclear versions. This could result in dramatic escalation and potential devastating miscalculations in a conflict with another nuclear-armed State.'

The senators are supported by William Perry, former U.S Secretary of Defence, who argues that such missiles are very destabalising as they could be launched without warning. In addition, cancelling the nuclear cruise missile program could be a good, practical step to  'lay the foundation for a global ban on these dangerous weapons.'

Not everyone agrees with the senators. The U.S. Air Force Association (AFA) is urging Congress to move ahead with funding the program. In a letter to the  leaders of the four defense congressional committees on December 14, 2015, the AFA says that 'There are no signs the long-established military requirement for a nuclear-capable standoff cruise missile has diminished. Instead, maintaining a strong LRSO capability provides the most non-proliferation incentive by convincing allied countries they do not need to develop their own nuclear weapons.' (See AFA Urges Congress to Fund Long Range Standoff Weapon, Defense News).

Senators signing Markey's letter include Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Senators Sanders and Franken are also co-sponsors of the Sensible Approach to Nuclear Expenditure (SANE) Act, introduced by Senator Markey to the U.S. Senate during the PNND Assembly in Washington in March 2014.

The SANE Act calls for massive cuts to nuclear weapons programs which would save over $200 billion dollars over coming years - funding that could instead be used to address climate change, support renewable energies, create jobs, and assist education and health services in the United States.