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Bulletin #140: Administration Hints at Smaller Nuclear Force Amid Wider Defense Cutbacks

January 8, 2012

Dear friends --

Probably many of you have seen news reports regarding the Administration's proposed significant "cuts" to the military.  (Actually, these would not be cuts in absolute current-dollar terms, but rather cuts to previously-planned increases, as President Obama made clear in his remarks.  They might also be real cuts after correcting for inflation, but we haven't parsed that out.)

Here was our take on this welcome development, with many useful links.

The best single news article on this development, as it relates to nuclear weapons, may have been that of Elaine Grossman, who also mentioned when further details might become available:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his deputy, Ashton Carter, said on Thursday that specific programs and force structure to be reduced would be identified within the next few weeks as Obama delivers his State of the Union speech -- slated for Jan. 25 -- and sends a fiscal 2013 federal budget request to Congress shortly thereafter.

“Our judgment [is] that we can maintain deterrence at lower levels of forces, but I will defer any discussion of specific programmatic details to the budget when it rolls out,” Michele Flournoy, the Defense undersecretary for policy, said at the Thursday press briefing.
One of the welcome follow-ups to this was an editorial at bloomberg.com which, despite its hold-your-nose call for "better" nuclear weapons, did single out the odious CMRR project as the first place to start cutting waste in nation's warhead complex.
The benefits of a smarter nuclear-weapons policy will spread beyond the Pentagon. The Energy Department should be able to trim billions as well from its related spending, starting with a halt on a plutonium storage and production facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
This is also the view of Congress, as evidenced in the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act, which singled out CMRR as the best place to cut from NNSA's over-ambitious infrastructure "modernization" plans.

There is a great deal happening in Washington on these matters, and in a few minutes I will be flying there for the week, where I will be meeting with various officials and colleagues on pending stockpile stewardship and budget issues, which are now in rapid flux.  Also, I have been invited to a symposium hosted by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on broader threats -- energy, climate, and so on -- and will enjoy meeting with friends new and old there.  These trips are very productive; we have unusual access high in government; and we thank many of you for supporting them.  Trish and Peter will be working hard here in my absence, as usual.

Tomorrow we will file our Reply in our Appeal in the Tenth Circuit regarding NNSA's failure to produce an applicable environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to implementing CMRR, fully briefing that Appeal.

In our second lawsuit, which includes the issues covered in the first but also new issues raised by the bogus supplemental EIS, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has produced one of its more fascist briefs which claims that the government and the government alone should decide the scope of evidence and that citizens should not even be allowed trials in cases challenging EISs.  It ought to be laughable but in these times it is not.  We are very grateful to our attorneys for breaking trail through this bogus snow-job.  Of course NNSA and DOJ do not want facts in the courtroom, and where possible they don't want a courtroom.

I want our membership to understand that this kind of hoped-for collapse of the rule of law on the part of DOJ, and the entire necessity of litigation, only arises because our "environmental" delegation and "environmental" President are not doing their jobs, along with a lot of other people.  You can see the same thing happening in other areas -- immigration and internet freedom are other examples.  Many could be cited.  Without belaboring the point, citizens must brace themselves and find the inner strength to roll back not just these insults to democracy but also the policies themselves that are destroying our environment and crushing our prospects, starting of course with the poor.  In progressive circles we see very little of the trenchancy that would actually make a difference going on.  All of us must take stock and discern what truly has traction if we want to create a just society on a habitable planet.  Too often, our social needs are fulfilled long before we get to the threshold of actual political action.  Too often, well-meaning people support our candidates for office without first securing from them the firm public commitments that will insure they actually do something worthwhile with that office.

Greg, Trish, and the Los Alamos Study Group

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