Bush Admin Should Halt Nuclear Development

    Dear Editor,

    The University of California manages Lawrence Livermore National
    Laboratory, a facility leading the development of the so-called Reliable
    Replacement Warhead or RRW, the first new hydrogen bomb designed by the United States
    in 20 years.

    Students and faculty at the university therefore have a
    unique role to play in actively questioning this misguided U.S. nuclear weapons
    policy and UC system’s involvement in its implementation.

    The Cold War is over and the threat of an all-out nuclear
    war with Russia has greatly diminished. Despite the fact that the United States
    still has nearly 10,000 nuclear warheads, the Bush administration argues that
    new nuclear weapons are needed to ensure “long-term confidence in the future
    stockpile.” The administration’s original argument was that plutonium pits, the
    cores of existing nuclear weapons, were aging and becoming “unreliable” — thus
    explaining the catchy nickname.

    This argument is misleading, and ignores recent scientific
    findings. A 2006 JASON report, a pre-eminent nuclear advisory group established
    by members of the World War II-era Manhattan Project, found that plutonium pits
    safely and reliably function for at least 90 years — over twice what had been
    estimated previously. Given the age of the oldest existing nuclear weapons in
    our stockpile, the U.S. nuclear deterrent is therefore guaranteed for at least
    another 50 years.

    Other factors negate the need for new nuclear weapons. The
    safety and reliability of existing nuclear weapons is certified annually and
    closely monitored under life-extension programs using computer-generated
    models. The weapons’ reliability is also based on more than 1,000 tests.

    A resumption of nuclear testing would violate the
    Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a mainstay of the nonproliferation regime, which
    the United States already signed. Developing new nuclear weapons would signal
    to the world that the United States, despite its overwhelming conventional
    military superiority, believes it necessary to upgrade its nuclear arsenal.

    A recent study prepared for the Department of Defense
    observed, “The world sees us as shifting from nuclear weapons for deterrence
    and as a weapon of last resort to nuclear weapons for war fighting and first
    use.” This perception gives emerging world powers like China another reason to
    feel threatened by the United States and may embolden aspiring powers to seek
    their own homegrown nuclear weapons.

    Developing new nuclear weapons undermines our diplomatic
    leadership in stemming the spread of nuclear weapons by undermining our Nuclear
    Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments. Many states that gave up the right to
    acquire these weapons have expressed concern that the United States is not
    living up to its end of the bargain under the NPT to work toward the eventual
    elimination of nuclear weapons.

    Building new nuclear weapons will not make us safer. It will
    do nothing to deter terrorists, and it will not improve our strategic
    relationships with other countries. It will only undermine efforts to prevent
    the spread of nuclear weapons, extend outdated Cold War-era thinking, shirk our
    international commitments, waste a lot of money and threaten our long-term

    — Lt. Gen. Robert Gard
    UCSD Lecturer and Senior Military Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
    Leonor Tomero
    Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation
    Achraf Farraj
    Warren College Student

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