New Obama Budget Slashes Nonproliferation

More FY 2015 budget analysis over on the mother ship, this time on the Obama administration’s disturbing cuts to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) core nuclear and radiological security programs. Here’s a teaser:

In its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Obama administration made it resoundingly clear that it is in a full-on retreat from accelerating the security of nuclear and radiological materials around the globe.

This decision is difficult to fathom, given that as recently as this week the President stated that the number one thing that keeps him up at night is “loose nukes.” Likewise the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review identified nuclear terrorism as “today’s most immediate and extreme danger.”

For the third year in a row the NNSA budget submission continues a disturbing trend of funding nuclear weapons and other programs at the expense of core nuclear and radiological material security programs. This year, the tradeoff is starker than it has ever been.

The request slashes nearly eighteen percent compared to the FY 2014 enacted level from core threat reduction and nonproliferation programs such as the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and the International Materials Protection and Cooperation (IMPC) program while increasing weapons funding nearly seven percent (including a massive 20 percent increase for the unnecessary, over budget, and behind schedule B61 mod 12 life extension program). The request also increases funding for NNSA’s Naval Reactors program by nearly 26 percent.

Roughly half of the funding cut to the Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation account (or approximately $250 million) came out of core programs, while the other half was to the controversial Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel program in South Carolina.

Read the whole thing here.

In the Shadow of the Nuclear Modernization Mountain, Nuclear Weapons Budget Ripe for Savings

I’ve published a new piece on the Center homepage on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s preview of the FY 2015 Pentagon budget request last week and the implications for nuclear weapons. Here’s the intro:

Last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey previewed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Pentagon budget request. Additional details are not scheduled to be released until Tuesday (March 4), but the broad outlines of the request are already clear.

And despite cuts to many Pentagon programs, Hagel stated that the budget had “preserved all three legs of the nuclear triad and will make important investments to preserve a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear force.”

Hagel announced a number of cost saving measures driven by the Congressional mandate to reduce military spending as part of an overall deficit reduction effort, including reducing the size of the Army, retiring the A-10 fleet of aircraft, reducing the planned buy of the Littoral Combat Ship, and modest reforms to the escalating and unsustainable growth in personnel compensation costs.

Yet the Pentagon either couldn’t find, or, more accurately, was unwilling to find, additional savings and thus proposed an unrealistic budget blueprint through FY 2019 that exceeds the Budget Control Act caps by $115 billion. The Pentagon also invited Congress to further inflate its coffers by proposing an additional $26 billion in spending for FY 2015 that didn’t make it into the formal budget submission. Without this additional funding, Hagel argued, “the military will still face significant readiness and modernization challenges next year.”

Given the requirement to find budget savings beyond current plans and also maintain the world’s finest military, the Pentagon should be prioritizing military programs that are the most critical to combatting the current threats we face, since every dollar spent on lower priority programs is a dollar that can’t be spent on more important needs.

It would therefore be puzzling if the Pentagon shields nuclear weapons from the chopping block in its budget request (which it largely appears to have done) – especially since our military leaders have already determined that we have more nuclear weapons than we need for our security. But just as the administration’s FY 2015 budget is divorced from reality, so too are its nuclear weapons spending plans.

Read the whole thing here. I’ll have more to say about the budget, particularly on the NNSA side, when the full details are released tomorrow.