Earlier today, the White House released its $4.7 trillion budget plan, which would increase spending on nuclear weapons by $12.4 billion, an 11.8% increase over fiscal year 2019. The budget includes a specific focus on completing production of new “low-yield” nuclear missiles in the upcoming fiscal year.
In reaction to the budget, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Trump’s pitch for more nuclear weapons spending should surprise no one. The administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review — the cornerstone of its nuclear policy — seeks to move the United States closer to nuclear warfighting with new weapons and looser restrictions on use. Trump’s nuclear agenda is underpinned by myths of ‘controllable escalation’ and ‘winnable nuclear war,’ as well as a profound misunderstanding of America’s bloated nuclear arsenal, which easily matches Russia’s and is more than four times larger than the rest of the nuclear-armed nations’ combined.”
“The top national security priority of the United States should be preventing the use of nuclear weapons. The Trump administration’s accelerated pursuit of ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons does the opposite. You might imagine a ‘small’ nuclear weapon is a safer nuclear weapon, but that’s not how this works. What’s uniquely dangerous about ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons is that they’re more tempting to use in a conflict. Keep in mind that a single ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapon detonated over the White House would kill 100,000 people and injure 125,000 more. It would be 2,500 times more destructive than the device used in the Oklahoma City bombing. These weapons are not normal and they certainly are not ‘small.’
“By pursuing the production of these weapons, the Trump administration is fueling a new arms race with Russia and undermining global and crisis stability — increasing the risk that nuclear weapons will be used again. The first use of nuclear weapons, no matter the size, runs an unacceptably high risk of escalation to all-out nuclear war.
“Congress should immediately reject this proposed spending increase for dangerous new weapons, but addressing the root risk of nuclear use requires a seismic shift in nuclear policy — beginning first and foremost with passage of the No First Use Act which would commit the United States to never use nuclear weapons first in any circumstance.”