Trillion of dollars on upgrading the U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces
At the end of April, the president of the US Donald Trump gave an order to the US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, to evaluate the condition of the Nuclear Forces. The last revision happened in 2010.
The Nuclear Forces checking has already been started and it will last a year. After that, according to his personal order, Trump will receive a report called Nuclear Posture Review.
Except simple counting and recording, the goal of this procedure is to work out a program to modernize the Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF) and find new approaches of using them as a military-political tool. According to the views of specialists, the American taxpayer will pay trillion of dollars for this.
The Head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, announced that the current “inventory” of the Nuclear Forces is being conducted due to see “how successful the US protection from external threats is”.
According to American experts, considerably out-of- date infrastructure of SNF needs upgrading seriously, however, the limit of budget doe s not allow launching the modernization now.
However, Trump is likely to convince the Congress to “shell out” on new nuclear bombs, missiles and missile launchers. During his pre-election campaign, Trump declared that one of his main aim is “to enforce and expand nuclear opportunities”.
According to official data, in January, the US Strategic Forces had 681 deployed aircraft carriers which are intercontinental ballistic missiles, including sea-based ones, and, also, heavy bombers with 1367 nuclear warheads deployed on them.
Moreover, the US Strategic Forces have 848 deployed and undeployed carriers. Also, there are about 150 tactical nuclear bombs B61 in Europe. The development of a new modification of nuclear bomb B61 started in 2011 and it will be finished by 2018.
According to the agreement on the reduction of strategic offensive arms CHB-3 by February, 2018, the number of Russia and American “quickly deployed” nuclear warheads should not exceed 1550 units and the number of strategic carriers should not be over 800 units, among of which “quickly-deployed” units should not be more than 700.
Barack Obama’s administration worked out a version of the agreement on CHB which supposed a further decrease of Russian and American nuclear arsenals, however, it is doubtful that Trump’s absolutely military administration can come back to this idea.
The US nuclear infrastructure is controlled by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Department of Energy. It includes almost 37 thousands of employees and engineers, four plants, three national laboratories and National Security Center.
According to expert views, this agency has small opportunities: 30% of the equipment and its production capacity refer to the times of the famous project “Manhattan” dated to 1942, when the US created its first nuclear bomb. The Head of NNSA, Lieutenant General Frank Klotz, admitted at the hearings in the Congress in 2016 that “the main risk for NNSA and its various and life important missions is its out-of- date infrastructure”. He also thinks that his organization does not get enough money and the “gap” will amount to 4 billion of dollars by 2019.
Money that the US government issues is only enough to support the system in work condition and prolong the period of service of special types of nuclear weapon. In 2013, the agency stopped the production of plutonium pits which are the main elements of the partible component of nuclear weapon. The military advisers of Trump intend to work out a 5 year and 10 year plan for the Strategic Nuclear Forces after its checkup.
The priority direction is to the modernization of the nuclear arsenal which means prolonging the period of nuclear warhead service and its carriers, modernizing the system of control and management, upgrading the production complex of NNSA, the recapitalization of the whole nuclear triad. This was announced by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry at a hearing in the Congress. NNSA is responsible for nuclear warheads and the US Department of Defense is responsible for its carriers - intercontinental ballistic sea and ground based missiles and strategic bombers.
According to the February report of the Congressional Budget Office, a 10 year plan of Nuclear Forces upgrade needs 400 billion of dollars.
According to the specialists of James Martin Nonproliferation Studies, it needs minimum trillion of dollars during for 30 years.
As NNSA admits, it needs minimum 102 billion of dollars for supposing combat readiness and prolonging the period of service of nuclear warheads for 40 year (till 2057). Now, taking into account the government financial support, the Head of NNSA is planning to spend no more than 100 million of dollars a year on “the modernization”.