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 »
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”