Bush administration promotes nuclear revival
Paloma Galindo
October 2002

How did it happen that within a year of taking office, the Bush administration reversed the nuclear arms policy of the last three Presidents?

A big part of the answer lies in the influence of former defense industry executives, many of whom are now in the top foreign policy and national security positions at the White House and the Pentagon.* The Nuclear Posture Review, which sets out US policy for the next ten years (and was leaked to the public in January), was heavily influenced by the defense contracting companies who stood to profit from it and a small circle of conservative ideologues at think tanks funded by the arms industry.

Despite the end of the cold war, Bush's 'Moscow Treaty' between the US and Russia does not move toward the elimination of the nuclear threat, but instead encourages a continued global arms race. Although both sides agreed to reduce their deployed strategic weapons to no more than 2,220 each by the year 2012 (a number to blow each other up many times over) - none of the weapons will be destroyed. Instead, they will be put into storage. In addition both sides have substantial leeway to temporarily increase the numbers of weapons as long as they meet their reduction goals at the end of ten years.

The Bush administration let it be known that it intends no further arms control treaties with Russia. In fact, in the US Nuclear Posture Review, Russia was listed as a continued target for use of nuclear weapons.

The new US Nuclear doctrine represents an abrupt departure from the policies of prior administrations, Democratic and Republican alike.

While Bush has pledged to reduce the numbers of nuclear warheads deployed by the United States, his proposed policy would dramatically expand the role of nuclear weapons in US military strategy. The nuclear posture review gives nuclear weapons a new lease on life by pressing for the development of a flexible nuclear war-fighting capability grounded in a reinvigorated nuclear weapons complex.

Unlike his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, who removed tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ground and naval units as a way of lessening the risk of nuclear confrontation, George W. Bush's approach paves the way for the development, testing and deployment of a new generation of low-yield nuclear weapons.

And unlike the Clinton administration, which tried to pursue changes in US nuclear policy without abandoning international arms control treaties, the Bush administration has already announced its intention to withdraw from on major agreement, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, and its nuclear plans undermine the other major pillars of the current global arms control regime.

The message to the rest of the world is simple: to be safe, countries need a large nuclear arsenal including useable battlefield nuclear weapons. If you can't afford nukes, you'll need some other kind of weapon of mass destruction.

If the United States continues to violate the Nonproliferation treaty signed by over 180 countries (including the US) other nations may also begin to pursue their own nuclear options.

Spurred by the war on terrorism, India and Pakistan are closer to nuclear war than any country has been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. In response to aggression by China, Japan has threatened to produce their own nuclear weapons from the plutonium, tritium and uranium obtained from their nuclear power plants.

As nuclear weapons continue to flourish, so do the materials and the technical know-how. Many believe it will only be a matter of time before these weapons are used against the United States. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has called the use of weapons of mass destruction on American soil "inevitable". The nuclear threat is moving forward at a breakneck pace. A "nuclear revival" is underway. In a time in which foreign policies determining wars and the production of weapons of mass destruction are decided upon not for "security" but for corporate profits, it is up to the global citizens to stand up and demand a halt to the nuclear madness threatening us all.

*Lockheed Martin is the country's largest defense contractor - with Pentagon prime contracts worth a total of nearly $30 billion in FY 2000 and 2001 alone. Lockheed Martin has eight current policymakers that had direct or indirect ties to the firm before joining the Bush administration. Northrop Grumman, now the nation's third largest defense contractor has seven former officials, consultants, or shareholders in the Bush administrations in the Bush administration. Northrop Grumman's most important interests in the fields of nuclear weapons and missile defense are long-range strike systems (UCAVs), the B-2 bomber, and a range of missile defense programs.

Paloma Galindo just retired as an organizer for the Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Environmental Peace Alliance. This article is reprinted from their August 2002 newsletter. Information for this article was provided by the World Policy Institute.

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