A renewed arms race has the U.S. ramping up production of plutonium "pits," which are the bowling ball-sized tips for nuclear weapons, in the $1.5 trillion program to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The use of America's heartland to stash the nuclear weapons silos is effectively a target for U.S. enemies, including Russia and China, experts warn.
"Why plant a $100-billion nuclear 'kick me' sign on the country’s breadbasket?" Scientific American editors wrote in the December edition of the magazine.
"The only real way to use nuclear weapons is never," the editorial concluded. "They should exist only in numbers large enough to deter their use by others, which they already abundantly do, with not one warhead more."
The U.S. has not used the 3,708 nuclear weapons (1,770 deployed and 1,938 reserved) it stockpiles for deterrence, but they degrade over time, necessitating expensive updates that hope to merely sit unused for decades, The Guardian reported.
"A worrisome new arms race is brewing," United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in September. "This is madness. We must reverse course."
Under former President Donald Trump in 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) planned to produce 80 pits a year, but the program stalled and was canceled in 2020.
Now President Joe Biden's administration is realizing the need to upgrade the nuclear arsenal.
"Much of the stockpile has aged without comprehensive refurbishment," according to the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. "At a time of rising nuclear risks, a partial refurbishment strategy no longer serves our interests."
Still, all the cost and indisposable nuclear waste for the outdated weapons and the new ones create problems for public safety.
"Many of us thought the problem on nuclear weapons was over at the end of the cold war," Princeton University professor Frank von Hippel told The Guardian. "I remember a strategic air command officer saying we were on a glide path.
"But we're not on a glide path any more.
"Nuclear war is a probability thing, and it's been 80 years, a lifetime, since we had one to deal with one. So people have assumed the probability was close to zero, which it isn't unfortunately."
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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