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Case Study - To what extent does the United States of America necessitate the procurement of nuclear weapons?

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Case Study - To what extent does the United States of America necessitate the procurement of nuclear weapons?
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  Case Study - United States of America and Nuclear Weapons To what extent does the United States of America need to have the procurement of nuclear weapons?   In the United States of America, nuclear weapons are woven into the structure of its national security strategy as the ultimate guarantor of US and Allied Security. In the ensuing decades of the Cold War, nuclear weapons became a political tool to prevent and constraint conßict because of their unique physical power that rapidly allowed them to do this. US nuclear weapons play a crucial role in the security relationships and behaviours  between major nations as they act as a primary deterrence and as an assurance, which remains at the foundation of the US national security. United States foreign policy was underpinned by deterrence and assurance concepts that were both based on nuclear weapons, this deÞned their primary roles. Since the end of the Cold war, the strategic context for nuclear weapons has changed and with that, the threat of sudden nuclear attacks has receded. The US nuclear force, weapon stockpile, and the very specialised industrial base that supports it, have experienced signiÞcant reductions. Even new concepts of tailored deterrence including highly capable US conventional forces, limited missile defences and space/cyberspace capabilities have emerged. According to the signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the current status of the US, makes it one of the Þve more recognised nuclear powers. At the current time of the writing, an estimated 4,760 US nuclear weapons was in either deployment or storage. This compares to a peak of 31,225 total warheads in 1967 and 22,217 in 1989, and does not include the several thousand that have been schedules for dismantlement and retired. 1MICHELLE GANZORIG    Figure 1: Chart representing the estimated global nuclear warhead inventories 1945-2016   Clearly, the number of nuclear weapons has signiÞcantly declined since the Cold war, and often, government ofÞcials portray this accomplishment as a result of current arms control agreements. The United States of America similar to other nuclear-armed states, appear to plan to retain arsenals for an indeÞnite future. This is reasonable, as other nuclear powers may pose a threat to each other, and in a changing world, it is important for the US to control their national security. However, the topic of disarmament is common throughout the world. There has been much debate on whether or not nuclear powers like the US should continue developing more nuclear weapons, and what impacts these have already caused in terms of the environment, economy, and well-being of the nation, as well as any possibilities in the near future. The 44th President of the US, Barack Obama, outlined a goal of Òa world without nuclear weaponsÓ in 2009 and 2010, signing numerous treaties such as the START treaty that would aim to reduce the number of active nuclear weapons from 2,200 to 1,550, and conducting a Nuclear Posture Review that declared that the US would not use any nuclear weapons against nonnuclear, NPT-compliant states. The USÕs current nuclear status includes plans of the modernisation and well maintenance of the nationÕs nuclear weapons arsenal. In this essay, I intend to explore to what extent the United States of America really needs to have the procurement of nuclear weapons.   Under the order of President Franking Roosevelt in 1939, the United States Þrst  began developing nuclear weapons fearing the prospect of Hitler developing such a weapon before them. The program had a slow start under the National Bureau of Standards, and then put under the OfÞce of ScientiÞc Research and Development. In 1942, the program was known as the secret ÔManhattan ProjectÕ, and was ofÞcially transferred under the auspices of the United States Army. The WorldÕs Þrst nuclear test, the ÔTrinity ExplosionÕ, was conducted on 16 July 1945, with a plutonium implosion-design weapon of approximately 20 kiloton yield. Many scientists lobbied for the American, British and Canadian joint venture to be turned to peaceful purposes, but this was suppressed by President Harry TrumanÕs observation that possessing a bomb ahead of the Soviet Union, would put the U.S. in an advantage. By mid-1945, three usable weapons were developed, of which a uranium-gun design bomb was detonated over Hiroshima, following the imminent invasion of the Japanese home islands. A second plutonium implosion-design  bomb was dropped over Nagasaki on August 9th. The bombings resulted in the mightiest 2MICHELLE GANZORIG  explosion humanity had ever witnessed - with 70,000 people killed in the Þrst bombing, and 35,000 people in the second bombing. Figure 2: The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings   Throughout the 1950s, the United States of America was competing with the USSR for nuclear supremacy. The US developed intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles that could sneak up to the opponent without any warning on the radar. Both countries were involved in a situation known as Mutually Assured Destruction, as no matter who attacked Þrst, both countries were damaged till the point of collapse. Although the theory went that no country would risk committing such ÔsuicideÕ in war, MAD led to the production of thousands more nuclear weapons. The U.S.A was striving to possess large amounts of Þrepower to be capable of launching the Þrst nuclear strike in order to destroy the ability of the attacked country to respond - this all seemed much like a mad race to supremacy and power. By the early 1960s, many political leaders and military experts feared that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would rise around the world, and with that, countries were likely to get ahold of the nuclear threshold within the following decades. With the purpose of forestalling such development, two powerful nations, the United States and the Soviet Union worked on creating an international agreement that would prohibit the spread of nuclear weapons. These negotiations, resulted in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which was signed by most countries including the Þve nuclear weapon states (NWS) - France, China, USSR, Britain and US who agreed not to acquire or develop Ònuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.Ó This promised a step towards the reduction of nuclear weapons, ultimately aiming to completely disarm countries of nuclear weapons. Additionally, the NPT enshrined the 3MICHELLE GANZORIG  right of all states to continue develop nuclear energy for peaceful matters, which I believe is problematic as a transition from civilian back to military capability is relatively simple. Figure 3: Signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons The Cold War witnessed a signiÞcant increase in nuclear weapons development, with over 70,000 warheads developed between 1945 and 1990, in over 65 different varieties. 8.8 trillion dollars was spent by the U.S. government on nuclear weapons development between 1940 and 1996, and 552 billion dollars in present-day terms was spent on the management of nuclear waste and environmental remediation. As a nuclear power state, the United States of America will need to invest billions of dollars in order to maintain a diverse nuclear arsenal that will assure the nation and deter potential adversaries in the upcoming years. Over the nine Þscal years of 2010-2018, the US will spend more than 179 billion dollars on its nuclear arsenal, with costs averaging 16  billion dollars to 25 billion dollars per year over the 9 year timeframe. This estimate, includes direct costs of weapons and strategic launchers such as submarines, as well as a majority of the costs of the military personnel responsible for the maintenance, operation, and execution of the arsenal. Unfortunately, these costs do not include the money required for the eventual support for the veteran pensions or healthcare. As the current systems will eventually retire, the current forces are aging, and each leg of the nuclear triad (land, submarine-based and bomber delivered nuclear weapons) will be replaced, the overall costs will be expected to grow to a staggering $500 billion over the course of the next 20 years. These estimates required to maintain current nuclear triad and develop their next generation replacements, have been made based on data from the budgets of the Department of Defense, Department of EnergyÕs National Nuclear Security 4MICHELLE GANZORIG  Administration, and from the Congressional testimony. The reason for this, is because the U.S does not provide information on the costs of maintaining its nuclear weapons. The Government Accountability OfÞce have reported in 2005, that the Department of Defense itself is not aware of the actual cost of running the nuclear mission. At present, it is not required of the nation that a nuclear budget be developed by the Congress. The Administration itself does not product an accounting either, and there is no single budge account that contains all information on the expected costs required for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.   Figure 4 - Chart representing the US spending on nuclear weapons 2010-2018   Since the facets of the U.S. nuclear arsenal are constantly undergoing maintenance and extensive modernisation, and most of the expected research and develop programs as well as procurement costs for missiles, follow-on bombers, and submarines are planned to take place after 2018, the data in the above chart represents a fraction of the full costs of maintaining nuclear deterrent. Combined with the unlisted support costs associated with communications, control, missile defense, environmental management, among others, the combined costs would account for tens of billions of dollars in addition per year. It is expected that the costs for nuclear mission will grow substantially over the next 20 years, with the modernisation of each leg of the nuclear triad to replace existing nuclear systems. However, decisions on which systems to replace and in what numbers, are currently being made. The high expenses of maintaining nuclear weapons programmes, will continue to divert the U.S from health care, education, disaster relief and other vital services for the community- which is a problem. Funding allocated to national disarmament efforts, are meagre by comparison to the billions of dollars spent in maintaing and modernising them 5MICHELLE GANZORIG
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