Does the United States need a new nuclear-armed cruise missile?
Will Saetren, a former research fellow with the Ploughshares Fund, has just released a report that attempts to answer this question, and will summarize his arguments in a 3:30 p.m. talk at the Arizona Senior Academy on Monday (May 16). The Ploughshares Fund is a global security foundation working to reduce and ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration wants to spend about $30 billion over the next two decades on a new air-launched nuclear cruise missile called the Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) weapon. In addition, the administration plans to spend at least another $100 billion on 100 new B-21 stealth bombers to carry the new LRSO missiles.
Both the LRSO and the B-21 would have stealth capabilities. But Saetren argues that using a stealth bomber to carry a stealth cruise missile is not only redundant, it’s extremely dangerous.
He contends that building both these new weapons systems is unaffordable, unnecessary and destabilizing. Doing so risks igniting a new nuclear arms race.
In addition, the new missile is projected to have low yield capabilities which, Saetren argues, means that military planners want to be able to carry out “surgical” nuclear strikes.
This troubles Congressional opponents of the LRSO.
“The so-called improvements to this weapon seemed to be designed, candidly, to make it more usable, to help us fight and win a limited nuclear war. I find that a shocking concept,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Saetren’s report, Ghosts of the Cold War: Rethinking the Need for a New Nuclear Cruise Missile urges President Obama to cancel the LRSO and propose a global ban on all nuclear-armed cruise missiles.
Saetren did his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona and is a grandson of ASA member Richard Kronauer.
Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer