Nuclear Response

By Thomas Duffy / November 4, 2011 at 7:43 PM

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the congressional "supercommittee," received a letter today from an Ohio congressman who is trying to set the record straight on the cost of maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), the chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, was responding to a letter sent last month to the supercommittee by other House members who want to see the U.S. nuke budget cut:

On October 11, 65 Members of Congress sent a letter to each of you claiming that we "spend over $50 billion a year on the U.S. nuclear arsenal," and calling on "the supercommittee to cut $20 billion a year, or $200 billion over the next ten years, from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget." This $50 billion per year figure is incorrect -- and, when coupled with the cuts proposed by the October 11 letter, deeply harmful to a fully informed and accurate debate.

The correct figure is approximately $21.4 billion per year. Therefore, the requested cuts of $20 billion per year would effectively amount to unilateral and immediate nuclear disarmament by the United States. These proposed cuts would therefore have, I’m sure you’ll agree, catastrophic impacts to our national security and global stability.

Turner cited a Nov. 2 hearing of his subcommittee where several Defense and Energy department officials rejected the $50 billion a year figure for maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.