Letters to the Editor

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BUDGET: One place to cut the federal budget

Letter by John Mills, Tacoma on Feb. 17, 2011 at 11:18 am with 2 Comments »
February 17, 2011 3:13 pm

A quick read of President Obama’s latest budget proposal shows why spending is hopelessly out of control. Among other things, the administration proposes $11.8 billion in new budget authority for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

According to the budget, “The overall investment (in NNSA) includes $7.6 billion for Weapons Activities, an increase of $1.2 billion over 2010.”

I hadn’t heard of the National Nuclear Security Administration before, so maybe a lot of Americans are unaware of this $12 billion agency. It’s part of the Department of Energy, not the Department of Defense, although it apparently handles nuclear bombs.

I’m not sure why we need a National Nuclear Security Administration unless the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military aren’t able to safely handle these things. And, if that’s true, why should we trust the people over at NNSA to do better?

The Department of Defense is scheduled to have a “base budget” of $553 billion – more than Washington state spent on all state government in the last decade. If, somewhere in that huge Department of Defense budget, we could provide for surveillance and management of America’s nuclear bombs, we could save $12 billion.

That isn’t a large part of the federal budget, but it is more than Washington state spends each year on basic education. Maybe this is an investment we don’t need to make.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. The agency you mention works closely with the Defense Department, public agencies and private businesses. You might want to consider that we need highly technically trained individuals who specialize in maintenance, transport, disarming and storage of nuclear materials, including materials gathered from civilian plants and from other countries. There is a whole world of nuclear materials that are not directly part of the US military that must have increased security and control. This agency responds to all radiologic incidents in the US military and civilian and is called upon to go all around the world to assist in the security of all nuclear material.

    In the US, most of the nuclear development and technical aspects of our weapons program has always been under civilian control. This agency was developed in 2000 when it became apparent that our previous efforts had been uncoordinated and inefficient and the danger of terrorists obtaining nuclear material was increasing both in the US and around the world. Security at Los Alamos and plants such as PanTex where our bombs are dismanteled is a daunting challenge. We are currently dismanteling numerous weapons and storing the materials. We have nuclear material that needs to get to and from our Navy. We are securing and dismanteling nuclear materials from Russia and storing them in the US for our own safety.

    I, for one, am glad this impoprtant agency is expanding to meet the security needs of this dangerous area.

  2. This letter is the kind of thinking where non-experts in a certain field have simple solutions to a complex problem. What this letter really shows, especially in this case, there are no simple solutions. Do you think that the military will just be able to take assume management of all our nuclear material without additional costs and manpower? If such a proposal were to be enacted it could cost considerably more than 12 billion. Also you might want to consider that back in 2007 the USAF lost track of six nuclear tipped cruise missiles for a number of days. This does not make me feel comfortable about them taking over all nuclear material.

    http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=5177

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