On Tuesday, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee continued the push back against the Bush administration’s drive for new nuclear weapons by refusing to fund the Reliable Replacement Warhead. In a statement, Committee Chairman Pete Visclosky said,
Last year, the Administration proposed the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) as the first of a new generation of nuclear warheads. The Administration promotes the advantages of a new design offering better surety, better reliability, and lower yield, but RRW was offered in a vacuum and there was no new strategy behind it. There was no plan for what the weapons were to be used for, how many there were to be, or how they were to be made. So, Congress refused to fund the RRW.
This year, the Committee again reiterates that before considering funding for most new programs, substantial changes to the existing nuclear weapons complex, or funding for RRW, the following sequence must be completed: First, replacement of the Cold War era strategies with a 21st Century nuclear deterrent strategy sharply focused on today’s and tomorrow’s threats that is capable of serving the national security needs of future Administrations and future Congresses without the need for nuclear testing; second, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear stockpile sufficient to serve that strategy; and finally, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear weapons complex needed to support that future stockpile. Of course, we need to be looking at all three at once, but the decisions have to flow in that order. With no such plan delivered, the fiscal year 2009 bill again denies all funding for RRW. There is no sense in expending the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars absent a clear plan for the complex.
Meanwhile, we must continue to keep the pressure on in the Senate, where the future of the RRW will likely be decided. The current Senate Defense Authorization bill retains the $10 million funding request that would keep RRW alive and may hit the Senate floor soon. More importantly, the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee will consider funding sometime in the next month. You can email your senator here and ask them to oppose funding for the RRW.
Eliminating all funding for RRW this year can send a strong message to the next president that a drastic change in our nuclear policy is needed. Rather than build new nuclear weapons, the US can lead a global effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. If you’re curious about how the presidential candidates stand on nuclear weapons issues, including the RRW, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has put together a comprehensive comparison of Barack Obama and John McCain on nuclear issues that you can see here.