Strategic weapons and space

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Military budget& Strategic weapons and space& great power war risk22 Mar 2014 01:25 pm

by Andrew Lichterman

I gave a talk at the Global Network on Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space annual meeting last weekend. Several people asked for a text, so I am posting the talk here (see link below). The talk touches upon current U.S. strategic weapons modernization programs, military space, and their relevance to the current climate of growing great power competition and confrontation, including the crisis in the Ukraine.

Vandenberg Air Force Base: Local and Global Connections

U.S. military& Military budget& Secrecy and democracy& Strategic weapons and space& Divine Strake29 Jul 2012 09:40 pm

by Andrew Lichterman

Back in 2006, I wrote a series of posts about the “Divine Strake” test, a very large conventional high explosive test slated to be conducted at the Nevada Test Site (now dubbed/sanitized to the “Nevada Nuclear Security Site”), intended to simulate the effects of low-yield nuclear weapons. That test was later canceled as a result of opposition both from disarmament groups and from regional opponents concerned about potential environmental effects. Along the way, I found budget documents showing that the U.S. military also was developing a very large, earth penetrating conventional bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. (see the latter part of my post titled The ‘Divine Strake’ low-yield nuclear weapons simulation: government denials and responses).

At that time, Defense Threat Reduction Agency Director James Tegnelia was quoted in an American Forces Press Service piece, denying that the Defense Department’s Hard Target Defeat program manifested anything more than a theoretical interest in developing a large conventional earth penetrator:

“One weapon Tegnelia commented on is the HTD program’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a multi-ton bomb. He stressed that it’s a defensive, not offensive, weapon. He told AFPS that the MOP is a test article meant to understand the design principles on which a country might build a weapon to counter hard targets. ‘We are not in the process to convince anybody to field a large earth penetrator,’ he said.” Steven Donald Smith, “U.S. Agency Works to Reduce WMD Threat,” American Forces Press Service, April 3, 2006 (emphasis added).

Tegnalia made this statement despite budget request documents filed earlier, in February 2006, listing among the FY2005 accomplishments of the “CP operational warfighter support” program the following:

Analyzed effectiveness of massive ordnance penetration against hard and deeply buried targets and completed preliminary design.
Refined Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) concept and began detailed weapon development and testing. Planned statically- emplaced Proof-of Principle test of effectiveness of Massive Ordnance payloads. Planned demonstration of massive ordnance airblast lethality against a full-scale tunnel target. Exhibit R-2a, RDT&E Defense-Wide/Applied Research - BA2 , 0602716BR Project BF - CP Operational Warfighter Support February 2006

On July 25, 2012, the Air Force Times quoted Air Force Secretary Michael Donley stating that the Massive Ordnance Penetrator is ready for use. (h/t to Common Dreams for its coverage of the issue). The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, more likely admitting the truth rather than retroactively revising it, states on its web site that

Flight tests have been successfully conducted at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. MOP integration activities for initial weapon delivery are also complete. Final system refinement, design and test will be complete in 2012 with additional weapon deliveries in 2013. The Air Force is managing and funding the program at this time, with Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) providing support.
Early tests of MOP were conducted by DTRA under the MOP Technology Demonstration effort. These tests began in 2004 with DTRA partnering with the Air Force Research Laboratory. DTRA conducted flight tests from 2008 to 2010. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, “Massive Ordnance Penetrator.”

All of this illustrates once again that on most matters, there is little reason to believe that any official of the United States Government is telling the truth when speaking for public consumption.

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--global& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Strategic weapons and space& Social movements and protest17 Dec 2010 09:49 pm

Andrew Lichterman

The battle over ratification of the new START treaty is in its final stages, yet from a disarmament perspective the debate over its meaning has barely begun. The treaty will have little effect on the material institutions of the arms race. It will have only minimal effects on current nuclear weapons deployments, and places no meaningful limit on the modernization of nuclear arsenals or the development of strategically significant weapons systems such as missile defenses and conventional “prompt global strike” weapons with global reach. The principal purported benefits of new START, given that it requires only marginal arms reductions over seven years, mainly fall into two areas: resumption of on-the-ground verification measures, and re-establishment of a negotiating framework for future arms reductions. The concessions extracted by the weapons establishment in anticipation of ratification, in contrast, will have immediate and tangible effects, beginning with increases in weapons budgets and accelerated construction of new nuclear weapons facilities. These increased commitments of resources are intended to sustain a nuclear arsenal of civilization-destroying size for decades to come, and will further entrench interests that constitute long-term structural impediments to disarmament.

One would think that the START deal, with a treaty constituting at best very small arms reductions coming at the cost of material and policy measures that are explicitly designed to push any irreversible commitment to disarmament off many years into the future, would spark considerable debate within the U.S. “arms control and disarmament community.” Most U.S. arms control and disarmament organizations, however, have obediently lined up behind the Obama administration, parroting its talking points and saying little or nothing about the budget increases and policy promises provided to the nuclear weapons establishment. The vast majority of the e-mail blasts I receive from disarmament groups ask me to tell my Senator to vote for ratification without mentioning these commitments at all. The occasional message that mentions them seldom mentions their significance, despite the fact that it is quite clear that without these commitments–which, furthermore, have constantly increased as the ratification battle has dragged on–the chances for approval by the Senate are nil.

From the disarmament perspective, do the vast concrete negatives of the START deal outweigh its considerably more intangible positives? The “arms control and disarmament community” has concluded that the answer is yes, but has done so without any visible debate.

I have written a piece in which I examine the START treaty and deal in more detail, and also offer some reflections on the implications of the absence of debate on the matter among those who work for disarmament. That piece, published as a Western States Legal Foundation commentary, is available at the link below.

The START Treaty and Disarmament: a Dilemma in Search of a Debate

A shorter version of the piece is forthcoming in Wissenschaft und Frieden.

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Strategic weapons and space& Social movements and protest02 Jul 2010 07:21 pm

Andrew Lichterman

(based on a talk given at a protest outside Vandenberg Air Force Base, June 5, 2010).

We are now several years in to a deep global economic and political crisis that shows no sign of abating. Those in command of the world’s political systems seem capable of doing little beyond protecting the immediate interests of privileged elements in their societies. At the same time, the familiar forms of oppositional activity seem spent, unable to pose a coherent and convincing alternative to the current order of things. Movements for peace and for a society that is more fair economically and sustainable ecologically can be found everywhere, but often are fragmented by specialization or particularized grievances and mired in habitual forms of thought and action. It is essential that all of us in these movements try to develop a broader understanding of this time and its challenges, starting from our particular work and location in the world and sketching the connections, however tentatively, to the larger whole. This will be one such sketch, with its starting point in disarmament work in the heartland of the U.S. aerospace-military-industrial complex in California.

Disarmament “progress” in the United States: rhetoric vs. reality

Last month in New York, the states that are parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty met to review the status of the treaty and the performance of its parties, a review that occurs every five years. After opening the conference with general endorsements of the concept of nuclear disarmament, the United States (together with other nuclear weapons states) spent the remainder of the month doing its best to weaken or eliminate language in drafts of the Review Conference final document that would impose any substantive disarmament obligations on the nuclear weapons states, such as time limits or definite commitments to negotiate a convention for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile in Washington D.C., the Obama administration proposals for increases in nuclear weapons spending were moving through Congress, the only significant opposition coming from those who claim that the budget increases are too small.We now have a flurry of elite rhetorical enthusiasm for disarmament, and much celebration of a U.S.-Russia treaty that will have little effect on the thousands of nuclear weapons they currently deploy, and even those requirements aren’t mandatory until 2017. But a few hundred nuclear weapons can destroy any country on earth, and a thousand are more could have effects that destroy much of the world’s civilization, killing a significant portion of its inhabitants.

And in this year’s budget request, the Obama administration, if anything, seems determined to outflank its Congressional critics from the right, proposing a 10% increase in nuclear warhead research and production funding and further increases for future years. And that’s just the Department of Energy budget. The Defense Department budget also has sizable increases for nuclear weapons and delivery systems. In evaluating the level of commitment to disarmament of this administration, it might be wise to remember the observation repeated by several economists of the last century, that “the budget is the skeleton of the state stripped of all misleading ideologies.”

In early June I spoke at a protest at the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base, a vast installation sprawling for miles along the southern California coast. Unlike the rest of the U.S. economy, Vandenberg is thriving, playing key roles in both the present and the future of this country’s war cycle, fighting endless wars in the present while striving endlessly for dominance in all imaginable wars to come. Vandenberg represents a kind of microcosm both of the gigantic U.S. military machine and of the upper echelons of U.S. society, tending ever more towards a perpetual exercise in maintaining power over others through violence while hiding behind layers of gates, guards, and guns.

The United States is continuing a broad effort aimed at developing new generations of strategic weapons and refining the techniques for using them, spending far more on high-tech weapons than any other country. This effort today includes upgrading existing intercontinental ballistic missiles and planning for work on next generation long-range missiles. For decades, Vandenberg Air Force Base has tested new generations of long range missiles, and continues to flight test those now operational.

Vandenberg is both a test range and one of the first two deployment sites for mid-course ballistic missile defense interceptors. And just a few weeks ago, the Air Force launched a Hypersonic Technology Vehicle from Vandenberg aimed at a target area at Kwajelein Atoll in the Pacific. That test was part of a program to develop a new generation of maneuverable gliding delivery vehicles that will be able to hit targets anywhere on earth within an hour or two. If deployed, these systems are intended to carry highly accurate non-nuclear payloads, permitting destruction by missile at global ranges with non-nuclear weapons for the first time. And one of the sites being considered for deployment is Vandenberg Air Force Base, supposedly to avoid confusion with the launch of nuclear-armed missiles from their bases in the Midwest.

Vandenberg is where the present and future of U.S. war making comes together. Many of the military satellites used for surveillance, to target weapons and to provide communications for current U.S. wars are launched here. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg does day to day planning of missions for the positioning and use of military satellites in those ongoing wars. (more…)

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Strategic weapons and space18 May 2007 11:46 pm

Trident missile launch from sea.

by Andrew Lichterman

On May 11, a National Academy of Sciences panel issued an interim letter report on equipping Trident submarine launched ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. provides an easy to download copy of the report here.

Congress requested that the NAS provide an analysis of conventional Trident in the conference report accompanying the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act. A final report from the NAS committee is scheduled to be issued in 2008. The reports are not limited to the conventional Trident proposal, but will “consider and recommend alternatives that meet the prompt global strike mission in the near-, mid-, and long-term.” The NAS panel recommended that research and testing of the conventional Trident should proceed with funding levels sufficient to keep the program on course to allow deployment in three to five years. It advised against full funding for production and deployment, because other “global strike” technologies also being researched may prove more promising in the long run, and because various technical and policy issues, including the danger that a conventional Trident might be mistaken for a nuclear launch, remain unresolved.

Despite some reservations about nuclear ambiguity and the relationship of new conventional long-range systems to nuclear arsenals, the NAS panel appeared enthusiastic about pushing ahead with a new generation of strategic weapons. It endorsed further exploration of a variety of other concepts, such as a new sea-launched global strike missile design, high speed cruise missiles, and hypersonic boost glide vehicles with intercontinental range. It concluded that “[t]he committee believes it is preferable to consider all proposed CPGS weapons as elements of a portfolio, one that needs balancing in terms of technical risk and time to deployment.”

These programs, intended to yield highly accurate delivery systems with global reach for conventional weapons, are proceeding with little public debate. Further, the barriers to using improved or new non-nuclear long-range delivery systems for nuclear weapons are largely made of paper. Buried in its discussion of the danger that a conventional long-range missile might be mistaken for a nuclear one, the NAS committee acknowledges this, stating that “[i]ndeed, the ambiguity between nuclear and conventional payloads can never be totally resolved, in that any of the means for delivery of a conventional warhead could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead.” [emphasis added]

U.S. research on new strategic weapons continues apace, with advances in delivery systems and in supporting technologies used to find and track targets and to guide weapons to them appearing more significant than anything (or at least anything publicly known) happening in nuclear warhead development programs. Yet most NGO arms control and disarmament work concerning U.S. strategic weapons programs remains focused on a narrow set of nuclear weapons design and production activities. Is it more likely that there will be some development in nuclear warheads as opposed to delivery systems that affects the nuclear strategic/political calculus–including everything from the level of U.S. military commitment to nuclear weapons to the way potential adversaries view U.S. capabilities and intentions to the likelihood of nuclear weapons use–in ways that adversely affect disarmament prospects? If new, more accurate delivery systems are developed that can be paired with existing nuclear weapons (perhaps with modifications) to destroy difficult targets that the majority of Congress members (and likely still a majority) repeatedly have voted to find ways to destroy, will Congress deny the military such capabilities? Why should we believe this? I have yet to see much of a discussion of such issues in the “arms control and disarmament community,” much less their implications for disarmament strategies. But perhaps I am not looking in the right places.

These questions, however, beg even larger and more important ones. How much do the details of all of this matter? If we believe that nuclear weapons are fundamentally immoral and that a global empire ultimately underwritten by weapons with global reach is fundamentally illegitimate, why do we allow ourselves to be caught up in debates about the minutiae of one or another weapons program? These are debates that those who hold long-term power usually win even when they appear to lose, the sci-tech-military-industrial complex leviathan surging inexorably on, growing insatiably regardless of whether we knock off a barnacle or two.

“You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.” Sven Lindqvist, “Exterminate all the Brutes”: One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide (New York: The New Press, 1996), p.2

For more on the U.S. “Prompt global strike” programs, see the preceding entry, “Next generation strategic weapons and the possibility of arms races to come.”

Trident missile launch photo from U.S. Navy, Vision… Presence… Power: A Program Guide to the U.S. Navy - 2000 Edition

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Strategic weapons and space07 Apr 2007 11:45 am

by Andrew Lichterman

In its current budget request, the military is pushing ahead with its proposals for “prompt global strike,” a broad effort aimed at giving the United States the ability to hit targets anywhere on earth in an hour or two. In the near term, the military wants to deploy conventional warheads on Trident submarine launched ballistic missiles, taking advantage of accuracy improvements resulting from programs conducted in recent years that have received little public attention. In the current proposal, two missiles on each ballistic missile submarine would be conventionally armed. At the same time, the U.S. is exploring other technologies and weapons concepts, ranging from land-based missiles with accurate, maneuverable re-entry vehicles to hypersonic glide vehicles that could deliver a variety of weapons. Although the technologies that would be developed in the Global Strike program currently are slated to be used to deliver only conventional weapons, there is nothing, aside from current policy, to prevent them from being adapted for nuclear weapons delivery in the future, potentially resulting in significant increases in the capabilities of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Together with initiatives to rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex and to design new warheads with the flexibility to be fitted to a variety of delivery systems, the pieces are being put in place for a renewed arms race in the 21st century, with the U.S. leading the way.

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces subcommittee last week, high ranking military officers and administration officials insisted that the United States absolutely must have the ability to strike targets inside any country, anywhere, anytime, in short order. Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson, Director of Navy Strategic Systems Programs noted that the budget request “frontloaded the funding,” asking for $175 million for FY2008 in order to allow the Conventional Trident to be deployed by 2010. Statement of Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson, Director of Navy Strategic Systems Programs before the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 28, 2007, p.5. Johnson noted that considerable development and flight testing of technologies allowing the requisite accuracy already has been done:

“CTM [Conventional Trident] will use existing D5 missiles, MK4 reentry bodies equipped with aerodynamic controls, GPS-aided terminal guidance, and a conventional warhead. Advanced error-correcting reentry vehicles with GPS-aided Inertial Navigation Systems have been flight proven in a previous D5 test program. Total time from decision to weapons-on-target is about 1 hour. CTM technology can be rapidly developed and deployed within 24 months.” Johnson Statement, p.5

Strategic Command (STRATCOM) Commander James Cartwright lamented the lack of “the means to deliver prompt, precise, conventional kinetic effects at inter-continental ranges.” Statement of General James E. Cartwright Commander United States Strategic Command Before the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 28, 2007, p.14. Neither Cartwright nor any other witness thought it relevant to mention that no other country has any such capability, or shows any signs of developing one). Cartwright noted that in addition to the Conventional Trident, the “Air Force Space Command is developing a promising concept for a CONUS [Continental United States] -launched conventional strike missile (CSM), which capitalizes on the maneuverability and precision-to-prompt-effects offered by maneuvering flight technology to produce effects at global distances.” (Id., pp.14-15). Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategic Capabilities Brian Green told the subcommittee that the Defense Department also “is considering other, longer-term solutions, both sea- and land-based, to broaden the portfolio of prompt, non-nuclear capabilities. The additional concepts include sea- and land-based conventional ballistic missiles and advanced technologies, such as hypersonic glide vehicles, employing precision guidance, advanced conventional weapons, and propulsion.” Statement of Mr. Brian R. Green Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities for The Senate Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee Hearing Regarding Global Strike Issues, March 28, 2007, p.8. Conventional Prompt Global Strike, Green concluded, “is critical to meeting evolving U.S. security needs in the 21st Century.” id. p.11.


Strategic weapons and space06 Mar 2007 08:19 am

Ray Acheson

Since China tested a kinetic energy anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon on 11 January 2007, arms control and space experts, along with the media, have delivered a range of analyses. The New York Times declared the test marks China’s “resolve to play a major role in military space activities,” while the Council on Foreign Relations argued it put “pressure on the US to negotiate agreements not to weaponize space.” Theresa Hitchens of the Center for Defense Information called it an “irresponsible and self-defeating act.” The White House topped them all, declaring China’s “development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area.”

Of course, the US has demonstrated through word and deed that it has little spirit of cooperation when it comes to security in outer space. The new US National Space Policy authorized by President Bush in August 2006 explains that the US will “preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intending to do so; take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests.”

Furthermore, the US space policy firmly opposes “the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit US access to or use of space,” and insists that “proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing, and operations or other activities in space for US national interests.” During the UN General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security held each year in October, the US has faithfully rejected resolutions proposing the negotiation of a treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space (PAROS), arguing there is no such arms race, and it would therefore be a waste of time to negotiate a PAROS treaty.

While condemning China’s ASAT test, the Department of Defense requested more than a billion dollars from the US budget for fiscal year 2008 to continue working on its own space weapons. US contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman are currently developing technologies that would allow the US to dominate space militarily, including lasers, sensors, missiles, delivery vehicles, and ground- and sea-based mission centers. The US military frequently denies these multi-million dollar enterprises are for space weapons, but the technology is widely believed by industry experts to at least have space weapon applications. Dual-use technology: the preferred way to have your cake and eat it too in the twenty-first century. (more…)

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--global& Strategic weapons and space01 Dec 2006 07:05 pm

John Burroughs

Along with other NGO representatives, I had the opportunity the other evening to say a few words at a reception here in New York honoring Kofi Annan, who will step down as UN Secretary-General at the end of this month. Speaking on behalf of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, I had no difficulty being utterly sincere. I started by thanking him for his condemnation of the U.S. invasion of Iraq as contrary to the UN Charter. I went on to say how much we appreciate his eloquent, informed and incisive calls for progress towards elimination of nuclear weapons, most recently in a remarkable speech at Princeton.

The speech is a clear exposition of the need for simultaneous action on two linked fronts: to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technologies for their production, and to marginalize and eliminate existing arsenals. Referring to the debate between proponents of “non-proliferation first” (mostly nuclear weapon states and their supporters) and proponents of “disarmament first,” Annan said:

“each side waits for the other to move. The result is that ‘mutually assured destruction’ has been replaced by mutually assured paralysis. This sends a terrible signal of disunity and waning respect for the [Non-Proliferation] Treaty’s authority. It creates a vacuum that can be exploited.”

Later, Annan observes that it is not clear how the NPT-acknowledged nuclear weapon states (Britain, China, France, US, Russia)

“propose to deal with the four nuclear-weapon-capable States [India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan] outside the NPT. They warn against a nuclear domino effect, if this or that country is allowed to acquire a nuclear capability, but they do not seem to know how to prevent it, or how to respond to it once it has happened. Surely they should at least consider attempting a ‘reverse domino effect’, in which systematic and sustained reductions in nuclear arsenals would devalue the currency of nuclear weapons, and encourage others to follow suit.”

Annan’s central proposal is this:

“I call on all the States with nuclear weapons to develop concrete plans — with specific timetables — for implementing their disarmament commitments. And I urge them to make a joint declaration of intent to achieve the progressive elimination of all nuclear weapons, under strict and effective international control.”

Most of what Annan says has been said repeatedly before, in international forums at least. But he says it very, very well, and as the Secretary-General he can put the truisms of those forums before the global public. There are a few points in his remarks that stretch the boundaries of current discussions around the UN, or the NPT, and even the report of the WMD Commission. The one I want to highlight is this:

“States that wish to discourage others from undertaking nuclear or missile tests could argue their case much more convincingly if they themselves moved quickly to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force, halt their own missile testing, and negotiate a robust multilateral instrument regulating missiles. Such steps would do more than anything else to advance the cause of non-proliferation.” [Emphasis supplied.]

It is absolutely correct that stopping proliferation and beyond that progress on elimination of nuclear arsenals will require paying very serious attention to delivery systems. That is something we, especially Andrew Lichterman, have been saying on this blog and elsewhere, but since the high water mark of disarmament discussions in the mid-1990s, it has basically receded from view. So Annan is to be congratulated for helping to bring it back into view.

One last thing: Don’t miss Zia Mian’s superb piece in the Daily Princetonian taking Annan’s speech as a starting off point for a meditation on the challenges of planning for and achieving the end of the nuclear age.

Nuclear weapons--global& Strategic weapons and space10 Nov 2006 07:55 am

John Burroughs

Today an item in the New York Times World Briefing said, in its entirety:

France successfully fired its new submarine-launched long-range M51 missile over the Atlantic in its first experimental test flight, the Defense Ministry said. The missile is designed to carry six thermonuclear warheads and has a range of up to 6,000 miles.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Security Council resolution condemning the test as jeopardizing international peace and security. That was the Council’s response to the July missile test by North Korea. But as Michael Spies blogged here regarding a subsequent U.S. missile test, the United States, France, and other permanent members of the Council apply different standards (if any) to themselves.

Disarmament& Nuclear weapons--U.S.& Strategic weapons and space27 Jul 2006 05:39 pm

Andrew Lichterman

A Department of Defense chart outlining the future of the nuclear stockpile, discovered by the Federation of American Scientists, forecasts that the U.S. will “develop warheads for next-generation delivery systems” between 2010 and 2020. Titled “Stockpile Transformation,” the chart also has a “long term vision” that includes “possible new DoD platforms and delivery systems.” In addition, the “long-term vision” includes “2-4 types of RRW’s” (reliable replacement warheads), while most media coverage to date has suggested that there will be only be two RRW designs, one to be developed by each of the nuclear warhead design labs at Los Alamos, New Mexico and Livermore, California.

The reference to possible additional RRW designs likely will draw the most attention, because warhead programs have been the main focus of what anti-nuclear weapons activism there has been in recent years. This chart, however, provides more evidence that new strategic delivery systems are in the offing, and that the requirements of those new delivery systems, if they go forward, will play a significant role in driving nuclear warhead design work in the years to come. I have written previously here and elsewhere on proposed new strategic delivery systems, which may range from new long range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles to reuseable launch vehicles, and their implications for nuclear weapons development (see, e.g., The Global Free Fire Zone: “Prompt Global Strike” and the Next Generation of U.S. Strategic Weapons; and U.S. strategic weapons programs: too many to talk about)

The time to stop the next cycle of the global missile and nuclear arms race is now. And it is long past time for the “arms control and disarmament” communities to develop an even-handed approach that demands a halt to the continuing development not only of nuclear warheads but of all long-range missiles and other long-range delivery systems, not just those of countries that the United States considers its enemies.

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