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Feinstein and Tauscher Slam Plans for New Nuclear Weapon

June 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Congresswoman and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher jointly wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Saturday, June 18 edition of the New York Times, demanding a halt to the planned production and deployment of the new Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSW), a new generation nuclear weapon that greatly increases the danger of thermonuclear war. The authors warned

“The Air Force is set next year to accelerate the development of this new nuclear cruise missile. It would carry an upgraded W-80 nuclear warhead and be able to penetrate the world’s most advanced air-defense systems.... However, building new nuclear weapons like this one could be unnecessary, costly and dangerous.”

Feinstein and Tauscher cited former Defense Secretary Bill Perry, who warned a year ago that the deployment of the LRSW would increase the risk of nuclear war by blurring the lines between conventional and nuclear weapons (the LRSW could use both nuclear or conventional warheads). The two authors of the New York Times op-ed demanded that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter provide a detailed public accounting of the plans for the LRSW, including whether it would be considered as a potential offensive weapon, rather than an added element of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. They cited estimates by the Federation of Atomic Scientists (FAS) that the new weapons system could cost $30 billion:

“At a time when the Defense Department is set to modernize every leg of the nuclear triad, investing $30 billion in an unnecessary and dangerous new nuclear weapon is irresponsible.”

They also stressed that “We want to eliminate any ambiguity that this new missile would be an offensive weapon.” The authors noted that the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review called for the reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the increased reliance on conventional systems like the Air Force’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile, which do not carry the risk of nuclear escalation.

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