US Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., speaks at Conference on September 5, 2018.
A group of Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban the Defense Department from having a new low-yield nuclear warhead, arguing it might fuel a hazardous arms race and hasten nuclear war.
The new warhead, for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would also siphon money off their military needs, said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and four other lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill. Smith, the top Democrat for the House Armed Services Committee, can be a frequent critic of nuclear modernization costs plus an opponent of this weapon in particular.
The move employs Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed, an appropriation package this month that applies $65 million on the program. The money pays to switch the W76-1 warhead for the Navy’s Trident II D5 ballistic missile in to a W76-2 warhead. (The measure also orders a survey of the weapon’s long-term costs.)
“We must not fund President Trump’s request for new low-yield nuclear weapons. His proposal dangerously lowers the threshold to nuclear use and siphons money from genuine military readiness needs.” Smith said in a very statement.
“We have a nuclear deterrent that is certainly over adequate to achieve our national security goals. Funding new, low-yield weapons would only draw us further into an unnecessary nuclear arms race and boost the perils of miscalculation.”
The bill would prohibit the study, develop, production, and deployment of the low-yield nuclear warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Sponsored by Smith, and Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; John Garamendi, D-Calif.; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., it’s known as the Hold the LYNE (Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive) Act. It’s exactly the latest push from Democrats in an ongoing battle.
The requirement for your weapon is part with the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, designed to deter Russia by using a unique arsenal of low-yield nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others have said Russia might try to use a tactical nuclear weapon to win a regular war quickly.
The Defense Department requested $22.6 million for FY19 and $48.5 million spread within the life with the Future Years Defense Program, or FYDP, some projected numbers that cover through FY23, meaning the combined cost for that rise in FY19 will be $87.6 million.
The lawmakers pointed to a Congressional Budget Office estimate this past year that upgrading America’s nuclear weapons at $1.2 trillion over the next thirty years.
The bill continues to be endorsed by Arms Control Association, Global Zero, Union of Concerned Scientists, Ploughshares, Win Without War, and also other nonproliferation advocates.