Unaffordable Nukes

If the national leadership decides to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, “you can forget about readiness or modernization” of the conventional force, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday. Smith, speaking at a McAleese/Credit Suisse event in Washington, D.C., said defense funding will still be tight no matter how much the new administration promises a widescale upgrade in people and equipment, and modernizing the nuclear triad “could be a trillion dollars,” and that’s unaffordable, said Smith. The US military has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world four times over, Smith said. “It used to be seven,” but “I still find that sufficient,” he noted. The US has four times the nuclear weapons of China, so “I don’t think we need to spend a lot of money on this.” Though the arsenal is “ample,” it would be more effective if the US puts more effort into diplomacy to assure adversaries that America won’t accept less than total use of nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin must be dissuaded from using “tactical nukes” and must be made aware that it’s “unacceptable if [he] steps across that line.”