Obama administration officials on Tuesday defended plans to overhaul the U.S. nuclear arsenal and modernize the B-61 nuclear warhead, according to Reuters.
Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of Defense for global strategic affairs, told a House Armed Services Committee subpanel the aging atomic weapons must be modernized so that policy-setters will back the administration’s plans to cut the size of the overall nuclear stockpile. In particular, the over-budget and behind-schedule effort to refurbish the U.S. arsenal of B-61 gravity bombs — roughly 200 of which are fielded at overseas bases — must continue, she told the Strategic Forces subcommittee.
“There are some who believe that there is a less expensive alternative … that was never considered, but I can assure you that each and every modernization design proposal available was presented to the Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) during its decision process,” Creedon said in prepared remarks. “Only after rigorous and thorough evaluation of each possibility did the Council unanimously conclude that the [planned B-61 program] … was the least expensive long-term option that could meet military requirements.”
Estimates for the cost of the B-61 life-extension program range from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s figure of $8.2 billion to the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation calculation of $10.4 billion.
Kingston Reif, an analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said it would be unwise to make such an investment when defense budgets are tight.
“That program is unaffordable, unrealistic and unnecessary because there are cheaper alternatives to extend the life of the weapon,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
What We're Following See More »
"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."