Debating Nuclear Deterrence

31 Oct


Weighing the utility of nuclear weapons has always been more theology than science. That was made clear again Tuesday when the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee poked into the need to spend $10 billion or more improving the Pentagon’s existing arsenal of B61 nuclear bombs.

The advocates of a reliable, potent and fresh nuclear deterrent argue that investing in a retooled B61 is a good use of scarce taxpayer dollars. Those less inclined to spend money on nuclear weapons no one ever wants to see used suggest newer B83s can do the job for at least the next decade. They are the only two bomber-dropped gravity bombs left in the U.S. atomic arsenal.

Not surprisingly, the representatives from the Pentagon and the Department of Energy, which builds the nation’s nukes, support the modernization plan. “This B61 weapon arms the B-2,” Air Force General Robert Kehler, chief of the…

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