Originally posted by jhn7537
reply to post by Drunkenparrot
Then why doesn't the US just lead by example removing ALL of their nuclear arms from the stockpile?
The Russian Federation is the short answer to your question.
Do not take this wrong but... do you honestly believe it is that simple?
has been a popular meme for 70 years but naive "wouldn't it be great if.."
ideology is always contradicted by the reality that
we are an aggressive species by nature.
Conflict seems to be a deeply embedded, universal character trait of mankind. Nuclear weapons are just the latest human expression of a sharp stick
and a bigger pile of rocks to throw than your neighbor in the next cave over.
Nuclear weapons will continue to exist and proliferation will be a concern until a technology evolves that can successfully render them obsolete.
After the total collapse and fragmentation of the Soviet Union, the newly formed Russian Federation found itself burdened with a conventional war
machine that dwarfed the U.S.( and all of NATO ) and a nuclear arsenal of some 25,000 warheads with no way to continue to pay for it.
Have you heard the story about the VVS Colonel that traded a complete MIG-23 for 100 lbs of beef?
Having no way to fund a conventional force on par with NATO, Russia let her conventional forces rust but maintained as much of her nuclear capability
as possible. Sino/Russian relations have been poor for sometime and the stratospheric rise of the Chinese economy and modernization of the PLA has the
Although there is some superficial cooperation with military technologies, the trade on Russian behalf is one of necessity not of choice.
Did you know that China and Russia use different railway gauges? A train car travelling from Russia to the PRC has to be lifted with a crane and
different wheel bogies installed. Do you know why?
Russia sorely misses being a superpower and the inheritance
of the Soviet Union's complete massive arsenal of warheads, delivery systems and
logistic infrastructure is a guaranteed ace in the hole to remain a relevant player influencing global security.
In contrast, the U.S. nuclear arsenal has no functional purpose and has become a cumbersome liability for the military since the end of the Cold
The U.S. would be more than happy to reduce their nuclear capability to a minimum ( say 200 warheads) if the Russian Federation and the PRC were
willing to do the same.
It is a relic that serves no functional purpose other than to counter the Russian nuclear arsenal (and to a much lesser extent PRC) with the promise
of mutually assured destruction if they were to resort to first use of their nuclear weapons in a direct conflict.
Nuclear weapons are logistically complex and expensive to maintain. The U.S. spends 40 billion dollars a year maintaining her nuclear arsenal,
approximately 7% of the total DOD budget ( and equal to the entire Russian defense budget last year). The DOD could readily use that amount in other
sectors, 40 billion would buy something like 3 complete CVBG's or 200 F-35's.
Nobody is really sure how reliable the stockpile is because the U.S. hasn't conducted a nuclear test since
the Divider shot
at the NTS
Nukes aren't like conventional bombs that can sit on a shelf for years unattended.
There has been enough information leaked to the public domain to know that there have been problems maintaining the weapons because some of the
components that are degrading haven't been fabricated for years because few records had been kept and all the engineers that knew what to do have
The U.S. currently enjoys an enormous conventional superiority, both numerically and logistically. Disregarding the super secret ultimate Russian/PRC
weapon of the week, conventional U.S. military forces have near total hedgeonomy of the air, sea or land.
The U.S. also has developed a credible, proven effective (and most importantly deployed)
capability versus theater ranged weapons in the
The Ground Based Midcourse Defense System
system effectively neutralizes the
strategic threat posed by the PRC's limited ICBM arsenal and comfortably insulates the CONUS from the limited but growing intercontinental capability
of the DPRK or the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In summary, the U.S. doesn't need them any longer to guarantee national security.
Here is a link to a paper written in 2005 that addresses the Russian issue well...
This paper discusses the official nuclear policy of the Russian Federation and the evolution of Russian thinking on the role of nuclear weapons in
the 21st century.
It seeks to explain the importance of nuclear weapons for post-Soviet Russia; the post-Cold War deterrence strategy; the development of the nuclear
forces structure and their missions; as well as Russia’s approaches to nuclear arms control and nuclear proliferation.
Finally, the paper examines the place and role of Russia in the multipolar nuclear constellation of this new century
For the post-Soviet Russian elite, nuclear weapons play a major politico-psychological role as one of only two remaining attributes of their
country’s great power and global status (the other being a permanent seat on the UN
Over the past 15 years, Russian leaders have been repeatedly “reminding” others, in particular the United States, that Russia is still a nuclear
power on par with the U.S. In reality, by doing so they have been reassuring themselves that not everything is lost and that Russia will make a
comeback as a major world player.
Nuclear weapons are a symbol of Russia’s strategic independence from the United States and NATO, and their still formidable capabilities alone
assure for Russia a special relationship with America.
Russia’s Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment
In military terms, with the serious decline of Russia's conventional forces, capabilities and readiness, nuclear weapons alone provide deterrence.
Even in the absence of credible external threats of appropriate caliber, this
works to reassure the high command and the political leadership that the country is adequately protected against any hypothetical large-scale attack.
In October of 2003, President Putin called nuclear deterrence forces “the main foundation of Russia’s national security”, both for the present
and the future. This form of reassurance, undoubtedly, is a positive contributing factor in the overall Russian decision-making process.
Another bit of reading regarding annual U.S. nuclear expenditures....
NUCLEAR SECURITY SPENDING ASSESSING COSTS, EXAMINING PRIORITIES
Total appropriations for nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs in fiscal year (FY) 2008 were at least $52.4 billion, according to the best
available data (see Figure 1).
This does not include costs for air defense, antisubmarine warfare,classified programs, and most nuclear weapons–related intelligence programs. The
total costs borne by the Department of Defense (DOD) to deploy and maintain nuclear forces are partially estimated and therefore may be too low.
Even so, this amount is far larger than most officials would acknowledge. When these officials consider nuclear weapons costs, they generally do so
only from the perspective of their respective department, agency, or jurisdiction.
By way of comparison, the 2008 nuclear weapons and weapons-related “budget” exceeds all anticipated government expenditures on international
diplomacy and foreign assistance ($39.5 billion) and natural resources and the environment ($33 billion).
It is nearly double the budget for general science, space, and technology
($27.4 billion), and it is almost fourteen times what the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated for all energy-related research and
Moreover, the allocation of funds among the five categories reveals troubling realities about current government priorities in the nuclear
I hope this helps to clarify your question.
edit on 30-11-2012 by Drunkenparrot because: (no reason given)