Women's Action For New Directions
The State of the Union: Nuclear Weapons edition

What to Look Out For and Suggested Tweets

January 27, 2014

by Erica Fein, Nuclear Weapons Policy Officer

The State of the Union is a pretty long speech. By the end, many of us will be ready to move on to something else – our favorite TV show, a good book, you get my point. Nonetheless, it gives us an opportunity to think about what policy decisions lie ahead for the year. Whether or not these issues are in the President’s speech, they are priorities for you and me. So, during the SOTU, take a moment to tweet, facebook, or even write a letter to the editor about what you have just heard, or wish you had heard.

Here are my suggestions:

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The Gold-Plated Bomb: B-61 Life Extension Program

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While reducing the threat from nuclear weapons was a signature national security issue for President Obama, his policy has not always aligned with his rhetoric. The President can and should do more to re-prioritize nuclear weapons reductions and direct his administration to implement nuclear weapons policy suited for 21st Century threats.

This means spending less money on a gold-plated upgrade to the B-61 gravity bomb. Under current plans, this single modernization program will cost $12 billion, more than $25 million per bomb. That means each bomb will cost more than twice its weight in gold! It is unconscionable that so much money is being spent on nuclear bombs that will never be used, and more so when other, less expensive upgrade options exist!

If you think our money would be better spent on other priorities…

TWEET: #NuclearWeapons are more obsolete than ever! Ax the gold-plated #B61 and use those billions of dollars for (ENTER PROGRAM OF CHOICE HERE – e.g. education, health care, community development)

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A Mission No One Wants: Air Force Missileer Problems

Recently, dozens of new articles have come out about the problems plaguing the Air Force’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Force. Some of the men and women handling these weapons, known as missileers, have cheated on exams related to their official duties, failed drug tests, and failed to pass proficiency exams. What’s more, the officers in charge of both the nuclear mission and the ICBM force have been relieved of their duties for such inappropriate behavior as using counterfeit chips at a casino and for multiple incidents denoting conduct “unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.” 

These incidents point to an endemic problem with our nuclear forces: this is a mission that no one wants to do! With the Cold War long over and nuclear weapons seen as relics of a past era, what keeps these weapons alive is not the mission but the politicians and special interests that benefit from their existence.

But nuclear weapons are not affordable! A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office determined that over the next 10 years, the country will spend $570 billion on nuclear weapons. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies projects that in the next thirty years nuclear weapons will cost one trillion dollars or more! Our country simply cannot afford business as usual.

The Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has recently stated that within 60 days, he will review the nation’s nuclear forces. If President Obama brings this up in his speech…

TWEET: Nukes review inadequate w/out action. Let’s get real about the cost of these weapons ($570 bn in 10 yrs) and what we forgo to maintain them.

Even if the President does not mention the review…

TWEET: Nukes to cost $570 bn in next 10 yrs. Meanwhile, problems plague nuclear mission. Let’s spend the $ where it counts: (ENTER PROGRAM OF CHOICE HERE – e.g. education, health care, community development)!

PREVENTING WAR WITH IRAN

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President Obama has made a commitment that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon and the breakthrough First Step deal between Iran and the world powers (U.S., UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany) is the biggest opportunity to ensure this outcome. Yet, hardliners in the U.S. Congress have proposed new sanctions legislation that would undermine this historic chance for diplomacy.

When the President mentions the nuclear deal with Iran…

Diplomacy with Iran prevents war and an Iranian nuclear bomb. Win-win! #LetDiplomacyWork

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