An $85 billion bribe for new arms treaty

BRATTLEBORO — Recently, more than 100 concerned Vermont citizens co-signed a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders, asking him to lead the Senate in cutting $85 billion that the Obama administration promised to spend, over the next 10 years, on “modernizing” our thermonuclear weapons arsenal.

The $85 billion was a bribe the President agreed to pay in exchange for Republican votes required to pass the New START treaty with Russia.

The letter to Sanders noted that “we support the treaty's verification provisions. We also agree that decommissioning more than 1,000 warheads would have been an important step forward if the actual benefits were not outweighed by the fact that $85 billion in wasteful spending will actually make Americans less safe.”

Marylia Kelley is the executive director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, a nuclear weapons watchdog group based near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. According to Kelley, the big-ticket items are a new plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Lab that will “enable the weaponeers to increase the production of plutonium bomb cores there from the current capacity of 20 per year to 50 to 80 per year.”

We will also get “new design nuclear weapon cores which are called 'pits' because they sit in the weapon like an apricot pit sits inside the fruit.”

Added to the list of things that will greatly increase the national debt, without bringing any economic or national security benefits, are a new uranium processing facility in Tennessee “to enable the production of 50-80 new bomb 'secondaries.'”

And if that weren't enough of a waste of taxpayer dollars in this day and age, Congress is also being asked to fund a brand a new bomb plant in Kansas City to produce the non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons.

The $85 billion would also be used to fund “improvements” in nuclear weapons development and testing at Livermores, the Nevada Test Site, and other facilities.

Is it reasonable to spend $85 billion on Dr. Strangelove ambitions at times like this time?

The United States already possesses the most destructive nuclear arsenal in the world. How, then, can we demand that other nations stop developing nuclear weapons when we blatantly and irrationally continue to invest billions on increasing the destructive capacity of our thermonuclear stockpile?

The $85 billion investment is an affront to efforts aimed at dealing with the real dangers of nuclear arms proliferation.

How many Americans do you think would be willing to trade a portion of their Social Security checks, Medicare coverage, or other benefits in return for adding more destructive force to a thermonuclear heap already capable of destroying the world many times over?

The New START treaty is a small step in the right direction, although an $85 billion investment in nuclear weapons facilities would create a strong bulwark against further reductions in strategic nuclear weapons.

Let our congressional delegation know that you think that such largescale investments in nuclear weapons are wrong. Please contact Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch. Ask them to oppose funding the modernization of nuclear weapons facilities. Ask them to use the $85 billion for debt reduction or for investments having real value for the nation.

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