08:39 GMT +315 December 2018
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    Mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews is seen at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (File)

    US Nuclear Policy Driven by Defense Contracts, Not Strategic Thinking

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    The US nuclear weapons policy is being driven by the financial and political interests of weapons contractors, not a strategic agenda, Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione told Sputnik on Thursday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In the coming 30 years, the United States plans to modernize its land, sea and air deterrent at an estimated cost of up to $1 trillion. The modernization includes building a replacement for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, as many as 12 new Ohio-class nuclear submarines, a new long-range strike bomber.

    "Despite President [Barack] Obama’s best efforts, we now have an unguided nuclear policy," Cirincione said. "It is being driven by contracts, not strategic thinking."

    In its 2017 budget request, the US National Nuclear Security Administration could receive $9.2 billion in funding for the nuclear weapons enterprise.

    "The drivers of nuclear policy in the United States right now is the nuclear industrial complex. It is those people with the financial or political interest in maintaining the existing nuclear forces," Cirincione noted.

    Department of Defense officials argued that nuclear modernization will not impact future strategic arms reductions.

    The majority of the US nuclear triad is aging, with numerous elements exceeding their expected lifespan.

    Cirincione argued that the level of proposed modernization of US nuclear forces would be "locking in the Cold War arsenal for another 30 to 50 years."

    The last major overhaul of US nuclear forces occurred in the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War.

    The Ploughshares Fund is a nuclear disarmament group, which has called for the reduction and eventual elimination of what it sees as the unacceptably high level of nuclear weapons worldwide.

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    nuclear arsenal, US National Nuclear Security Administration, United States
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