Right-wing media are attacking the Obama administration for reportedly considering options for cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. But experts have said that the United States should significantly reduce its nuclear arsenal, which was built up to fight the Cold War.
AP: The Obama Administration Is Weighing Options For Cuts To U.S. Nuclear Stockpile Built Up During The Cold War
AP: "US Weighing Options For Future Cuts In Nuclear Weapons, Including 80% Reduction." In a February 14 article headlined "US weighing options for future cuts in nuclear weapons, including 80% reduction," the Associated Press reported:
The Obama administration is weighing options for sharp new cuts to the U.S. nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons, The Associated Press has learned.
Even the most modest option now under consideration would be an historic and politically bold disarmament step in a presidential election year, although the plan is in line with President Barack Obama's 2009 pledge to pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons.
No final decision has been made, but the administration is considering at least three options for lower total numbers of deployed strategic nuclear weapons cutting to: 1,000 to 1,100; 700 to 800, and 300 to 400, according to a former government official and a congressional staffer. Both spoke on condition of anonymity in order to reveal internal administration deliberations.
The potential cuts would be from a current treaty limit of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.
A level of 300 deployed strategic nuclear weapons would take the U.S. back to levels not seen since 1950 when the nation was ramping up production in an arms race with the Soviet Union. The U.S. numbers peaked at above 12,000 in the late 1980s and first dropped below 5,000 in 2003.
Obama has often cited his desire to seek lower levels of nuclear weapons, but specific options for a further round of cuts had been kept under wraps until the AP learned of the three options now on the table.
A spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, said Tuesday that the options developed by the Pentagon have not yet been presented to Obama. [Associated Press, 2/14/12]
Right-Wing Media Respond To Potential Cuts In Nuclear Stockpile With Predictable Outrage
Fox's Liz Cheney: Obama "Is So Clearly Putting The Nation's Defense At Risk." From the February 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
LIZ CHENEY (guest host and Fox News contributor):Well it seems that the one area that he is in fact willing to cut is in defense. And in addition to the $487 billion in defense cuts we're going to see over the next ten years, we just learned this evening -- Jennifer Griffin reported that the president is now in fact considering cutting our nuclear -- our strategic nuclear forces by as much as 80 percent. Can you believe that the American people will stand by for this, you know, again as we're going into this election cycle when he is so clearly putting the nation's defense at risk?
DANA PERINO (Fox News host): It's a hard argument for them to make when there are so much other nuclear armament activity happening all around the world in places that are not friendly to the United States. I don't think -- they've not made a good case for it. You know, certainly I'll sit there and listen. But I feel like if you want to have a place in the world where you are in a position of leadership the only reason people respect you is if you have more than they do, and we're on a precipitous decline. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Stuart Varney: "Retreat On The Nuclear Front" Will "Invit[e] Someone To Go Against" The U.S. From the February 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
STUART VARNEY (Fox Business host): Why would we do this? Why would we retreat on the nuclear front so dramatically? What's the point? Is this for saving financially? Is that what it is? Because it is a retreat. If you don't have a forward posture that is one of strength then, I think, you're inviting -- not attack, that's too strong a word. But you're inviting someone to go against you. As you retreat somebody else will step forward. If that's what we're doing with nuclear weapons that is very dangerous. The Washington Post report on this calls it disarmament. That's a very strong word. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Peter Johnson: "Most Americans Would Say, In The Ideal World, We Don't Want Nuclear Weapons," But "This Is Not In The Ideal World. In The Ideal World, We Want America To Be Protected." From the February 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): That was President Barack Obama back in 2009 pledging to eliminate nuclear weapons. And it looks like that's exactly what he's trying to do today. The AP now reporting he's considering cutting our nuclear arsenal by up to 80 percent. Is this a good idea? Joining us right now, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. So we're going to disarm as a nation?
PETER JOHNSON JR. (Fox News legal analyst): The president has not approved these takedowns yet, but there's a various set of proposals and one of the proposals would bring us back to levels that we haven't seen since 1950. And this is one of the reasons that the president won the Nobel Peace prize, and he's articulated it time and time again and we've heard it that he wants to bring us to a zero, a global zero with regard to nuclear weapons in the world and of course in the United States.
JOHNSON: The truth is that we have to understand that deterrence usually mean strength. The issue becomes what is deterrence? There's a lot of people around the world that say: "Let's disarm, we don't need nuclear weapons." We all agree that nuclear weapons are destructive. But in the world, in the realpolitik that we live in, it's clear that nuclear weapons do in fact have a deterrence.
KILMEADE: What kind of power does he have? Because the final decision has not been made. Congress can speak out. Republicans and Democrats, I imagine, will speak out.
JOHNSON: Sure, and there was a lot of debate about the START treaty. And so no one is saying at this point the president is going to unilaterally disarm. This is going to be the subject of conversations between us and the Russians. But as the world changes and as the threats become different, we may in fact have to change the way shorter-range nuclear weapons, more targeted nuclear weapons, less dispersive nuclear weapons, to deal with the terrorist threat.
KILMEADE: But the problem is we're not just dealing with the Russians, we're negotiating with ourselves. We're doing this to ourselves with no other upside, and it costs a lot of money to do this.
JOHNSON: I think most Americans would say, In the ideal world, we don't want nuclear weapons. This is not in the ideal world. In the ideal world, we want America to be protected.
KILMEADE: And the ideal world -- Sesame Street. And we're not on Sesame Street.
JOHNSON: We're not on Sesame Street. This is a tough game and they're protecting us right now. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/15/12, via Media Matters]
Rush Limbaugh: Obama "Is Reducing Our Stockpile Unilaterally By 80 Percent," Shifting The Balance Of Power "Away From Us" "By Design." From the February 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
RUSH LIMBAUGH: There are some things happening today that are downright scary. The regime, led by Barack Hussein Obama, is weighing options for reducing our U.S. nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed warheads. 80 percent. Folks, this is staggering. Meanwhile, the Iranians are nuking up.
LIMBAUGH: We are unilaterally disarming. We are not requiring the Russians to go along. And even if the Russians said they would match these reductions, they lie. That is the lesson of the Russians and nukes. I think our top -- what was our top moment? We had -- our number of warheads peaked at 12,000 in the late '80s. And let me tell you something. That number of nuclear warheads is what helped us win the Cold War. That number of nuclear warheads sent a message to every other nation, particularly at that point in time the Soviet Union. You hit us, it doesn't matter. We've got enough left to wipe you out in retaliation. That many nuclear warheads was a deterrent.
So much is flashing back in me. You go back to the '80s and the '70s, the nuclear freeze movement, the peaceniks wanting to get rid of nukes, and there was an arms race going on. And we were increasing our stockpile, as were the Russians. The numbers mattered only in terms of deterrent. We had to keep up and we had to stay ahead. It was the deterrent. You build, for example, the B2 bomber hoping never to have to use it.
The left has never understood this about military matters and defense. They never understood this about nukes. You build them so that you don't have to use them. That's the point. You don't build them because you want to. You don't build them because you can't wait to use them. You don't build them because you're warmongers. You build them so that you don't have to. It's what's behind practically every major weapon, invention, and manufacture. The B2 stealth bomber -- you hope you never have to use it. Now we have had to, obviously. But the hope is that the brute force and the ability to project power is enough to deter anybody from taking us on. It's a great strategy; it is how this stuff works.
And now, Barack Obama is reducing our stockpile unilaterally by 80 percent, back to 300 warheads. Now you might say: "Well that's good, Rush. It's making the world safer." It is not making the world safer. If the Russians still have 1,500 or 2,000, whatever the number is, folks, there's a balance of power here that has shifted away from us. And this, I'm here to tell you, is by design. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/15/12, via Media Matters]
But Experts Agree U.S. Should Make Strategic Reductions To Its Nuclear Arsenal
Arms Control Association Executive Director: U.S. Could Reduce Its Nuclear Stockpile "Substantially ... While Retaining Sufficient Firepower To Deter Nuclear Attack By Any Current Or Potential Adversary." In a May 2011 editorial, Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, "a national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies," wrote:
In the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, successive U.S. and Russian presidents have gradually reduced the size and salience of their enormous nuclear stockpiles. Nevertheless, the size of each country's arsenal far exceeds what might be considered necessary to deter nuclear attack. Both sides can and should go lower.
Even under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), each country is allowed to deploy 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons on 700 missiles and bombers. Thousands of additional warheads are held in reserve. Unless they adjust their thinking, both countries will spend scarce resources to modernize and maintain similar nuclear force levels for 20 to 30 years to come.
This year, as the Obama administration reviews decade-old presidential guidance on nuclear force structure and nuclear employment policy, the president has an unprecedented opportunity to discard outdated targeting assumptions, open the way for deeper reductions of all warhead types, and redirect defense dollars to more pressing needs.
The 2010 "Nuclear Posture Review Report" outlines the national security rationale for reducing the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons and eliminating outdated Cold War policies. The document asserts that "the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear forces is to deter nuclear attacks against the U.S. and our allies and partners."
At the same time, the report acknowledges that the United States and Russia "each still retain more nuclear weapons than necessary for stable deterrence." Given that no other country deploys more than 300 strategic warheads and given that China possesses 40 to 50 warheads on intercontinental-range missiles, the United States and Russia could reduce their overall nuclear stockpiles substantially -- to 1,000 warheads -- while retaining sufficient firepower to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.
As the 2007 Arms Control Association report "What Are Nuclear Weapons For?" suggests, the United States could move to a smaller force of 500 deployed and 500 nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad within the next few years. A 2010 study by three Air Force analysts in Strategic Studies Quarterly concludes that the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." They argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.
Maintaining and modernizing U.S. strategic forces at current, higher levels is not only unnecessary, but prohibitively expensive. If Congress and the White House are serious about reducing defense expenditures by $400 billion by 2023 to reduce the ballooning federal deficit, they should start by deferring or curtailing the Pentagon's ambitious plan to upgrade and replace the strategic triad, which is projected to exceed $100 billion over the same period. [Arms Control Association, May 2011]
Air Force Experts: U.S. Could "Address Its Conceivable National Defense And Military Concerns With Only 311 Strategic Nuclear Weapons." In a May 23, 2010, New York Times op-ed, Gary Schaub Jr., an assistant professor of strategy at the Air War College, and James Forsyth Jr., a professor of strategy at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, wrote:
Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the Senate to advocate approval of the so-called New Start treaty, signed by President Obama and President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia last month. The treaty's ceiling of 1,550 warheads deployed on 700 missiles and bombers will leave us with fewer warheads than at any time since John F. Kennedy was president. Yet the United States could further reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons without sacrificing security. Indeed, we have calculated that the country could address its conceivable national defense and military concerns with only 311 strategic nuclear weapons. (While we are civilian Air Force employees, we speak only for ourselves and not the Pentagon.)
This may seem a trifling number compared with the arsenals built up in the cold war, but 311 warheads would provide the equivalent of 1,900 megatons of explosive power, or nine-and-a-half times the amount that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued in 1965 could incapacitate the Soviet Union by destroying "one-quarter to one-third of its population and about two-thirds of its industrial capacity."
Considering that we face no threat today similar to that of the Soviet Union 45 years ago, this should be more than adequate firepower for any defensive measure or, if need be, an offensive strike. And this would be true even if, against all expectations, our capacity was halved by an enemy's surprise first strike. In addition, should we want to hit an enemy without destroying its society, the 311 weapons would be adequate for taking out a wide range of "hardened targets" like missile silos or command-and-control bunkers.
The key to shrinking our nuclear arsenal so radically would be dispersing the 311 weapons on land, at sea and on airplanes to get the maximum flexibility and survivability.
While 311 is a radical cut from current levels, it is not the same as zero, nor is it a steppingstone to abandoning our nuclear deterrent. The idea of a nuclear-weapon-free world is not an option for the foreseeable future. Nuclear weapons make leaders vigilant and risk-averse. That their use is to be avoided does not render them useless. Quite the opposite: nuclear weapons might be the most politically useful weapons a state can possess. They deter adversaries from threatening with weapons of mass destruction the American homeland, United States forces abroad and our allies and friends. They also remove the incentive for our allies to acquire nuclear weapons for their own protection.
We need a nuclear arsenal. But we certainly don't need one that is as big, expensive and unnecessarily threatening to much of the world as the one we have now. [The New York Times, 5/23/10]
Nuclear Posture Review: "Our Most Pressing Security Challenge At Present Is Preventing Nuclear Proliferation And Nuclear Terrorism, For Which A Nuclear Force Of Thousands Of Weapons Has Little Relevance." According to the Defense Department's 2010 Nuclear Posture Review:
During the Cold War, our nuclear weapons policies and forces were designed to meet two core goals: to deter a massive nuclear or large-scale conventional, biological, or chemical attack by the Soviet Union and its allies; and to reassure our allies and partner that they could count on us to carry out that mission effectively. At the peak of the Cold War, the United States had over 30,000 nuclear weapons, including thousands deployed in overseas locations on short-range delivery systems. The U.S. nuclear weapons production complex constantly developed new types of weapons.
Today, the reassurance mission remains, but the deterrence challenge is fundamentally different. While we must maintain stable deterrence with major nuclear weapons powers, the likelihood of major nuclear war has decline significantly; thus far fewer nuclear weapons are needed to meet our traditional deterrence and reassurance goals. Further, the United States today has the strongest conventional military forces in the world. Our close allies and partners field much of the rest of the world's military power. Moreover, our most pressing security challenge at present is preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, for which a nuclear force of thousands of weapons has little relevance. [Defense.gov, Nuclear Posture Review Report, April 2010]
American And Russian Security Experts: Smaller Is Safer When It Comes To Our Nuclear Arsenal. In a September/October 2010 Foreign Affairs article headlined "Smaller and Safer: A New Plan for Nuclear Postures," Bruce Blair, president of the World Security Institute and Co-coordinator of Global Zero; Victor Esin, a retired Colonel General and former Chief of Staff of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces; Matthew McKinzie, a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council; Valery Yarynich, a retired Colonel who served at the Center for Operational and Strategic Studies of the Russian General Staff; and Pavel Zolotarev, a retired Major General and former Section Head of the Defense Council of the Russian Federation, wrote:
The New START agreement did not reduce the amount of "overkill" in either country's arsenal. Nor did it alter another important characteristic of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals: their launch-ready alert postures. The two countries' nuclear command, control, and communication systems, and sizable portions of their weapon systems, will still be poised for "launch on warning" -- ready to execute a mass firing of missiles before the quickest of potential enemy attacks could be carried out. This rapid-fire posture carries with it the risk of a launch in response to a false alarm resulting from human or technical error or even a malicious, unauthorized launch. Thus, under the New START treaty, the United States and Russia remain ready to inflict apocalyptic devastation in a nuclear exchange that would cause millions of casualties and wreak unfathomable environmental ruin.
In the next round of arms control negotiations, Washington and Moscow need to pursue much deeper cuts in their nuclear stockpiles and agree to a lower level of launch readiness. These steps would help put the world on a path to the elimination of nuclear weapons -- "global zero." And they can be taken while still maintaining a stable relationship of mutual deterrence between the United States and Russia, based on a credible threat of retaliation, and while allowing limited but adequate missile defenses against nuclear proliferators such as Iran and North Korea.
Many planners still contend that deterrence also requires the ability to retaliate against an opponent's leadership bunkers and nuclear installations, even empty missile silos. But this Cold War doctrine is out of date. Deterrence today would remain stable even if retaliation against only ten cities were assured. Furthermore, uncertainty and incomplete knowledge would make U.S. and Russian policymakers risk averse in a crisis rather than risk tolerant. So arsenals can safely be reduced much further than the New START level. But just how deeply can they be cut? And how can the reliance on a quick launch be eliminated while preserving strategic stability? To answer these questions, we created computer models that pitted U.S. and Russian strategic offensive forces against each other in simulated nuclear exchanges. We also modeled the thorny problem of missile defense systems to assess their impact on the stability of deterrence and to gauge at what warhead levels they become destabilizing.
Our modeling found that the United States and Russia could limit their strategic nuclear arsenals to a total level of 1,000 warheads each on no more than 500 deployed launchers without weakening their respective security. De-alerting these forces actually helped stabilize deterrence at these and lower levels. And the modeling showed that fairly extensive missile defense deployments would not upset this stability.
Once the New START agreement is approved by the U.S. Senate, the arms control process between the United States and Russia needs to continue moving forward. Washington and Moscow could easily reduce their nuclear forces to just 1,000 warheads apiece without any adverse consequences. They could also de-alert their nuclear forces, diminishing the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch. Eventually, in concert with other nuclear states and after progress has been made on missile defense cooperation, they should be able to reduce their arsenals to 500 weapons each. Even after these deep cuts, hundreds of cities would still remain at risk of catastrophic destruction in the event of a nuclear war. [Foreign Affairs, September/October 2010, via CarnegieEndowment.org]
Under Secretary Of Defense Michèle Flournoy: "We Can Maintain Deterrence At Lower Levels Of Forces." From a January 5 Defense Department press briefing:
Q: Dr. Carter, I'd like to ask you about the nuclear arsenal. The strategy document says that it's impossible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force. Could you elaborate on that? And is it still an open whether the department wants to preserve all legs of the nuclear triad?
ASHTON CARTER (Deputy Secretary of Defense): Surely you can. I'm going to ask Michèle to elaborate on that.
MICHÈLE FLOURNOY (Under Secretary of Defense): So I mean, I think the strategy is very clear, that we will continue to field a safe and secure and effective deterrent, but -- and that we will continue to modernize and recapitalize as necessary. I do think it's that -- our judgment than we -- that we can maintain deterrence at lower levels of forces, but I will defer any discussion of specific programmatic details to the budget when it rolls out. [Defense.gov, 1/5/12]
Nuclear Expert Joseph Cirincione: "Rightsizing The Nuclear Force Would Strengthen U.S. Global Leadership, Enhance The Country's Ability To Deter New Nuclear Weapon States, [And] Accelerate Efforts To Prevent Nuclear Terrorism." In a February 2 Foreign Affairs article, Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service, wrote:
Obama could rewrite those policies to shrink the target list, eliminate the need to launch weapons in minutes, and make other common-sense improvements. For example, by dropping the requirement to launch approximately 1,000 weapons at targets within 20 minutes, he could reduce the number of submarines required on station, allowing for a secure submarine force of eight boats. That would save $20 billion over ten years and $120 billion over the life of the program. Delaying the new strategic bomber would save $18 billion over ten years, and canceling it, $68 billion over 20 to 30 years. Reducing the current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles from 420 to 300 would save billions more, although no one is sure how much, because the government has never done what most businesses do routinely -- that is, cost out the options.
Whatever Obama decides will remain secret. But the results will speak for themselves in budget submissions, program schedules, and whether the United States accelerates reductions required under the New START treaty. Rightsizing the nuclear force would strengthen U.S. global leadership, enhance the country's ability to deter new nuclear weapon states, accelerate efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism, and greatly reduce the danger of the use of nuclear weapons from miscalculation, misunderstanding, or accident. It would make us all safer. More than budget decisions, these are fundamental security issues that tell the world a great deal about U.S. leadership, intentions, and values. Updating the nuclear posture from that of the Cold War era could be one of the most lasting legacies of the Obama presidency. He has already made promises; the time has come to deliver on them. [Foreign Affairs, 2/2/12]
Ploughshares Fund Director Of Policy And Government Affairs: "It's Time To Stop Spending Dollars That We Don't Have On Programs That We Don't Need And That Don't Make Us More Secure," Including Nuclear Weapons Programs. In an August 3, 2011, blog post, Joel Rubin, the Director of Policy and Government Affairs for the Ploughshares Fund, wrote:
As the dust settles on the debt ceiling deal, it's become clear that major cuts to defense spending have not only been approved in a bipartisan manner by Congress, but that even more are on the way. This means that the days of unlimited defense spending increases, where all systems can be purchased, are over.
So now is the time for tough choices to be made between defense programs that serve our warriors and those that we have maintained for too long due to bureaucratic, parochial or ideological reasons. It's time to stop spending dollars that we don't have on programs that we don't need and that don't make us more secure.
And there is a clear target for such cutting: nuclear weapons. Making these cuts will fit neatly into the broader framework on defense cutting that this debt deal has created. [PloughShares.org, 8/3/11]
Vice Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff Gen. James Cartwright Said "Nuclear Deterrence" Is No Longer An Effective Counter To Our Greatest National Security Threats. From a July 14, 2011, article published in Global Security Newswire:
The nation's second-ranking military officer on Thursday called for a broad reassessment of how to deter significant threats to the United States (see GSN, June 22).
A future national military strategy should strike a balance between fielding conventional weapons and nuclear arms, with the latter viewed as less usable against most threats, said Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Fresh planning should also account for the emerging roles played by missile defenses and cyber capabilities, he said.
Cartwright suggested, as well, that the future role of each leg of the nuclear triad -- bomber aircraft, ICBMs and submarine-launched missiles -- must be fundamentally re-examined so that desired capabilities and quantities are maintained, rather than determined by budget-cutting drills or political horse-trading.
"I'm advocating a conscious decision on: What is deterrence? How does it work?" the Marine Corps general told reporters at a breakfast Q&A; session. A 21st century approach should also account for the role of nonmilitary forms of power and persuasion, such as economic and diplomatic tools, he said.
During the Cold War, the United States sought to balance its fielded atomic weapons against the Soviet arsenal in a standoff dubbed "mutual assured destruction," in which either side that initiated a nuclear war would risk a devastating response.
With the growing possibility today that the first modern detonation of a nuclear weapon could be at the hands of a terrorist rather than a foreign government, the game has changed, said Cartwright, who is slated to retire early next month after a nearly 40-year military career.
"Violent extremist organizations are very real" and have signaled interest in using weapons of mass destruction against the United States and its allies, he said. "It's not a nation-state you're dealing with [but] it's equally threatening. So we have to start to think about this a little more holistically."
Washington in the future might attempt, for example, to head off threats from major nuclear powers in one way, while using a different strategy to deter any smaller nuclear-capable adversary, he said.
"You may actually decide that you're going to stay [with] mutual assured destruction with one country, but the other one is not going to be that," Cartwright said at the event, sponsored by the Center for Media and Security. "You're going to have to have the capability ... to convince them that you are, in fact, capable" of hitting an adversary that contemplates using a nuclear weapon, and that such an adversary is "not going to win," he said.
"What is it that you do, when you get the president up in the middle of the night and you say, 'So-and-so is attacking. The only thing I've got that can get there for the next 24 hours or 48 hours is a nuclear weapon'?" Cartwright said.
"We have to find some way to get a range of action that allows us to be credible in those first few hours if we're not there" with military forces on the ground, and "allows us also to not have to start at the nuclear level," he said. [NTI.org, 7/14/11]
Even Conservative Politicians Have Called For Nuclear Weapons Cuts
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn Proposed Saving $79 Billion And Improving National Security By Reducing U.S. Nuclear Force. From Senator Tom Coburn's (R-OK) July 2011 deficit reduction plan:
Reduce Nuclear Weapons Force Structure ($79 Billion)
This option would reduce the size of the nuclear weapon stockpile to levels within the START treaty limits and make the following changes:
- Reduce the size of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force from 500 to 300.
- Maintain a 1,100 nuclear weapon reserve.
- Reduce the size of the ballistic nuclear submarine fleet from 14 to 11.
- Maintain 40 strategic bombers and delay the purchase of new bombers until the mid-2020s.
[Coburn.Senate.gov, July 2011]