Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned in October 2008 that, "To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program." [Emphasis in the original.] We have done neither. By 2003-2005, a consensus emerged in the national laboratories that it would "…be increasingly difficult and risky to attempt to replicate existing warheads without nuclear testing and that creating a reliable replacement warhead should be explored."  Unfortunately, the politicians did not want to hear this assessment. Indeed, even the Bush administration's proposal to develop inherently more robust nuclear warheads (without nuclear testing) was rejected by the Congress.
Today, we do not have "science-based stockpile stewardship," but more like "political science-based stockpile stewardship" while, conversely, Russia has science-based development of new and improved nuclear weapons. Our politicians have corrupted the very nature of the scientific process. Because of the liberal ideology that has dictated U.S. nuclear weapons policy for decades, we have much higher cost and much less reliability and certainly no enhancement in effectiveness. Within a decade or two, this is going to result in a national security disaster. There will be increasing uncertainty concerning the effectiveness of a declining U.S. nuclear deterrent while there will be little uncertainty about increasing Russian nuclear capabilities.
Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions. He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.
This first appeared in RealClearDefense here.
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