Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2016
By John LaForge
In “End the First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons,” in the August 15, 2016 New York Times, General James Cartwright and Bruce Blaire argue that US presidents should no longer allow “their senior commanders to plan for the first use of nuclear weapons,” and the writers called for the complete elimination of US land-based missiles (the Minuteman IIIs) and of all 180 US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe (the B61s)—urging President Obama to start getting rid of them now. The two disarmament actions have been promoted by Nukewatch staff, members, volunteers and supporters for decades.
General Cartwright is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the US Strategic Command. Blaire, a former Minuteman missile launch officer, is a research scholar at Princeton.
A week earlier the Times said in its lead editorial, “Some defense experts, like former Defense Secretary William Perry have argued that the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles are no longer needed. In other words, the time has come to think seriously about whether that leg of the traditional air-sea-land nuclear triad should be gradually retired.”
Nukewatch’s newest book—Nuclear Heartland, Revied: A Guide to the 450 Land-based Missiles of the United States—includes a surprising chronicle of other high-level experts and former military commanders who have called for abolishing the Minuteman IIIs.
Here are excerpts from the Op-Ed:
Adopting a policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons “would reduce costs by gutting the rationale for retaining the large arsenal of land-based strategic [Minuteman III] missiles in silos across the Midwest and the tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Those [weapons] are mainly for first-use; they are a risky option for second-use because they are highly vulnerable to enemy attack. Eliminating these weapons entirely would be the best option.
“Phasing out land-based missiles … would save about $100 billion over the next three decades. President Obama could begin the phase-out of land-based missiles before he left office by instructing the Department of Defense to remove 450 weapons from the operationally deployed category and transfer them to long-term storage…. These missiles are surplus weapons no longer needed for deterrence.
“A no-first-use policy would also reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears.”
Help increase the strength and volume of the abolition movement by ordering a copy of Nuclear Heartland now, and stock your local library.