Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2021
Congressional plans for buying 400 new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) have been slammed by such centrist groups as the Bloomberg News’ editorial board, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Arms Control Association, Defense News, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry’s think tank. How does the program survive? An answer comes from the Center for International Policy’s Arms and Security Program’ February 9 report, “Inside the ICBM Lobby: Special Interests or the National Interest?” The report details the enormous sums spent by military contractors on lobbying and campaign contributions to influence senators from states that host ICBM bases or major ICBM development projects. Capitol Hill’s “ICBM Coalition”— from Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — are the beneficiaries that keep voting for a nuclear weapons program although, as report author William Hartung points out, there is “no militarily sound reason to build a new ICBM.” Among the report’s major findings:
● Northrop Grumman [which was awarded a $13.3 billion development contract Sept. 8, 2020] and its major subcontractors have given $1.2 million to the current members of the Senate ICBM Coalition since 2012, and over $15 million more to members of key Congressional committees that have a central role in determining how much is spent on ICBMs.
● The top 11 contractors working on the new ICBM spent over $119 million on lobbying in 2019 and 2020 and employed 410 lobbyists.