Is the reduction of active service nukes in use by the US a risk to security?
US Citizens - Nope, we are better off with less
33.1% (53)
33.1% (53)
Other Citizens - Nope, they are better off with less
46.9% (75)
46.9% (75)
US Citizens - Bad move. We need all those nukes.
5% (8)
5% (8)
Other Citizens - They need those nukes.
3.1% (5)
3.1% (5)
MOAR NOOKS FAH AMIRICAH!
7.5% (12)
7.5% (12)
Other.
3.1% (5)
3.1% (5)
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Poll: US reducing number of nukes to only 1000

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A post from Yahoo News popped up on my Facebook news feed today about an article detailing the Obama Administration's plan to reduce the number of US nukes on active service to 1000-1100.

Apparently this will save tens of billions as the maintenance costs for active nukes are huge.

Smart move, I thought. Why would anyone need even close to 1000 nukes. Making steps to have fewer is a step in the right direction.

The comments on the post, however, are ridiculous. For some reason a huge amount of people think that reducing the number of nukes is going to make the US weak and unable to defend itself against anything. Somehow the ability to end all life on earth several times over is not enough. There was even a person who said something along the lines of: "Instead of crippling the USA from within Obama should be doing something to reduce the deficit." Quite obviously I was gobsmacked that this person completely missed the tens of billions of dollars being saved here.

The Escapist is a much more sensible and level headed community than the population of Facebook as a whole so I would like to know what you guys think. Am I missing something here as a happy nuclear free New Zealander?

Is reducing the amount of nukes to 1000 a risky move?

EDIT: Non Facebook link direct to article

I agree with the move. Not only do they not need nearly that many, it'll also save them a lot of money that could go to more sensible projects. These nukes tend to get renewed, replaced, dismantled etc. and contractors suck a lot of money out of the country with that "cycle of nukes"[1]. Cynical me, of course, thinks that this is precisely the reason the nuclear weapons program is quite so huge in the USA: Lobbying, profit, leeching the populace dry of more money. A nice little setup for wealth-transfer. And since it's run under the label of "national security", almost nobody would be willing to touch it.

[1] Cue "Lion King"-music.

No-one in the world is going to think "Great, the USA only has a thousand nukes. Now is the PERFECT time for us to invade them because the Great Satan has now militarily crippled itself!"

It is an obvious move that has taken far too long to come about. I can't even see the need for more than a few hundred at the very most, let alone a thousand.

Skeleon:
"cycle of nukes" Cue "Lion King"-music.

I love the Lion King.

What yield? What delivery method? Are you going to keep a variety of different devices for different uses?

As it stands, the US's SSBN fleet alone can have over 300 nuclear weapons (twice that again for their SSGNs).

1,000 devices isn't really that much, the Russians have almost twice that, France alone has about a third. If it came to a war with a nation like Russia, 1,000 devices aren't going to be that many, especially as you have to send multiple devices to each target you want to be sure of to ensure it gets past Russian defences.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the US shouldn't drop below 1,000 devices until everyone else makes significant cutbacks of their own, but the devices should never actually be used.

SpAc3man:
I love the Lion King.

Thanks for the cookie. If you think about the "cycle of nukes" everytime you watch Lion King or listen to its music from now on, then my work is done.

So in other words, USA is abiding by the terms of the New START. Note that the treaty only covers, as the OP pointed out, "Nuclear devices in active service". It does not cover inactive stockpiled nukes of which both USA and Russia still have thousands.

So no, whoever is going on about "crippling the US defense capabilities" has no clue what they're talking about.

Also, the title is slightly misleading. Reduction only applies to actively deployed nuclear devices. Also, every bomber only counts as one nuke, no matter how many it's actually carrying. So really, someone's making a mountain out of a molehill.

SpAc3man:
There was even a person who said something along the lines of: "Instead of crippling the USA from within Obama should be doing something to reduce the deficit." Quite obviously I was gobsmacked that this person completely missed the tens of billions of dollars being saved here.

This is a big problem I have with conservatives (one of many, many, many). As gung-ho as they are about reducing the deficit, they won't even consider scaling back our military, on which we waste appalling amounts of money. Say what you want about social programs, at least they help people. Blowing all this money on the military helps nobody (though it does make more than a few people obnoxiously wealthy...)

We could slash our military fully in half and still be obscenely overpowered.

Vegosiux:
So in other words, USA is abiding by the terms of the New START. Note that the treaty only covers, as the OP pointed out, "Nuclear devices in active service". It does not cover inactive stockpiled nukes of which both USA and Russia still have thousands.

So no, whoever is going on about "crippling the US defense capabilities" has no clue what they're talking about.

Also, the title is slightly misleading. Reduction only applies to actively deployed nuclear devices. Also, every bomber only counts as one nuke, no matter how many it's actually carrying. So really, someone's making a mountain out of a molehill.

Two problems with that, how long does it take to re-commission a nuclear device? US early warning would give them about 30 minutes. A de-commissioned device it takes a few days to re-commission, and then longer to get to a delivery system isn't that useful.

Secondly, does a bomber count if it can theoretically deliver nuclear devices, even if there are none on it? I am led to believe it works something like this.

thaluikhain:

Two problems with that, how long does it take to re-commission a nuclear device? US early warning would give them about 30 minutes. A de-commissioned device it takes a few days to re-commission, and then longer to get to a delivery system isn't that useful.

Well, if it's not over by the time you launched your entire arsenal of 1000 active devices, pardon my french, it doesn't fucking matter how long it takes to re-commission the 1001st.

Secondly, does a bomber count if it can theoretically deliver nuclear devices, even if there are none on it? I am led to believe it works something like this.

I'm not sure on that one, to be completely honest. I think, but don't take my word for it, that a bomber counts as long as you can reasonably expect it to be outfitted with at least one nuclear device should the situation, Elune forbid, call for it.

I don't think that the number of nukes anyone has right now is enough to definitively destroy the human race, even from fallout. However, it could certainly ruin an entire city, so the amount the US has is a bit too much.

1000 is a good first step, and the fact that Russia is also reducing the number of nukes is great. It's a waste of money on both sides; the cold war ended a long time ago. Hopefully all nations with large arsenals will follow suite, until each country only has a few dozen nukes left.

SpAc3man:

Skeleon:
"cycle of nukes" Cue "Lion King"-music.

I love the Lion King.

I don't know why, but I found the large close-up of that cookie to look very..Unnerving.

And yes, OT, I agree with you. 1000 nukes are enough to scare-tactic people into not starting a war.

That is still 1000 too many in my book. We shouldnt stop until ALL nuclear weapons have been gotten rid of. However, we need to upgrade our ABM systems to counter any nation that still possess nukes. Unfortunately, Obama blocked that.:/

What in Gods name do they want 1000 nukes for? Jesus. One fucking thousand. Wow. Are you politicians insane? No, seriously, are they actually fucked in the head?

How on Earth are you even going to use a THOUSAND nukes? You can blow Iran up 60 times and still have enough to wipe out Western Europe. Just chill the fuck out for a second. Maybe if the US stopped murdering and threatening anyone from the middle East they can catch on the phone, you wouldn't need to "protect" yourselves so much.

FFS, you guys need a wipeout where politics and military establishments are concerned. Just fire fucking everybody and go from there. You have people in your country who can't even afford to fucking eat and the biggest thing everyones worrying about is having 200 nukes less, because woe is fucking America, then you might not be able to blow up our fucking galaxy whenever you feel like it.

When BOOM Headshot stands against the wackos who cry for Obama's blood over this nuke business...well, that was about as interesting as Overhead coming to Farson's defense in another thread ^^

Realitycrash:
I don't know why, but I found the large close-up of that cookie to look very..Unnerving.

Why? Because the chocolate chips look like the dark, hollow eyes of a misshapen Cthulian monstrosity staring into your soul? Or because you really want to eat it? And is it odd that those are the two options I think of?

Skeleon:

Realitycrash:
I don't know why, but I found the large close-up of that cookie to look very..Unnerving.

Why? Because the chocolate chips look like the dark, hollow eyes of a misshapen Cthulian monstrosity staring into your soul? Or because you really want to eat it? And is it odd that those are the two options I think of?

Case A. Very much case A.
-Shudder-

only 1000? ONLY? i know in comparison to some other countries that may be small but seriously ONLY 1000? it freeks me out we are in a position to say only 1000 nukes

BOOM headshot65:
That is still 1000 too many in my book. We shouldnt stop until ALL nuclear weapons have been gotten rid of. However, we need to upgrade our ABM systems to counter any nation that still possess nukes. Unfortunately, Obama blocked that.:/

Pretty much all missile shield programs are serious wastes of money. It is almost impossible to hit an en route ICBM and most successful tests have been single-missile based under unrealistic wartime conditions. Any country with ICBM capacity also has enough brains and assets to send up to two dozen dummy rockets to counter even the most effective missile defense system.

I would still maintain a small stockpile of updated and maintained fusion warheads (1000 seems reasonable) if only because there are a handful of extremely unlikely scenarios in which such a weapon would be useful.

The Gentleman:

BOOM headshot65:
That is still 1000 too many in my book. We shouldnt stop until ALL nuclear weapons have been gotten rid of. However, we need to upgrade our ABM systems to counter any nation that still possess nukes. Unfortunately, Obama blocked that.:/

Pretty much all missile shield programs are serious wastes of money. It is almost impossible to hit an en route ICBM and most successful tests have been single-missile based under unrealistic wartime conditions. Any country with ICBM capacity also has enough brains and assets to send up to two dozen dummy rockets to counter even the most effective missile

A lot of people disagree over that, to the extent that it's not just the US mucking about with missile defence.

Anyway, missile defence doesn't need to be effective to be effective, it just has to make attacking you that much more uncertain for the enemy. If you make them target the same site several times because you might shoot down some of your missiles, every missile aimed at at target that's already receiving one is as good as shot down.

If you make them not want to risk a nuclear war because they'll only probably, instead of definately, get their missiles through, your ABM system has saved your nation.

thaluikhain:

The Gentleman:

BOOM headshot65:
That is still 1000 too many in my book. We shouldnt stop until ALL nuclear weapons have been gotten rid of. However, we need to upgrade our ABM systems to counter any nation that still possess nukes. Unfortunately, Obama blocked that.:/

Pretty much all missile shield programs are serious wastes of money. It is almost impossible to hit an en route ICBM and most successful tests have been single-missile based under unrealistic wartime conditions. Any country with ICBM capacity also has enough brains and assets to send up to two dozen dummy rockets to counter even the most effective missile

A lot of people disagree over that, to the extent that it's not just the US mucking about with missile defence.

Anyway, missile defence doesn't need to be effective to be effective, it just has to make attacking you that much more uncertain for the enemy. If you make them target the same site several times because you might shoot down some of your missiles, every missile aimed at at target that's already receiving one is as good as shot down.

If you make them not want to risk a nuclear war because they'll only probably, instead of definately, get their missiles through, your ABM system has saved your nation.

Missile shield systems can also make adversaries much more paranoid about attack and send a very wrong message. For example, when US President Reagan touted the "Star Wars" missile shield program, the Russians were terrified that he would actually launch a first strike against them as he would have eliminated the MAD issue that was holding each of them back. To put it bluntly, everyone keeps a sword at their bedside for defense (i.e. warheads), but no one builds a full set of plate armor for defense (missile shield).

Sometimes the best defense is just to have a good offensive capacity.

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
What in Gods name do they want 1000 nukes for? Jesus. One fucking thousand. Wow. Are you politicians insane? No, seriously, are they actually fucked in the head?

How on Earth are you even going to use a THOUSAND nukes? You can blow Iran up 60 times and still have enough to wipe out Western Europe. Just chill the fuck out for a second. Maybe if the US stopped murdering and threatening anyone from the middle East they can catch on the phone, you wouldn't need to "protect" yourselves so much.

FFS, you guys need a wipeout where politics and military establishments are concerned. Just fire fucking everybody and go from there. You have people in your country who can't even afford to fucking eat and the biggest thing everyones worrying about is having 200 nukes less, because woe is fucking America, then you might not be able to blow up our fucking galaxy whenever you feel like it.

I've read that Ronald Reagan (Blessings be upon him) was concerned that the very large arsenal we had in the 1980s would inflict about as much death upon the USSR as they sustained in WW2, something that might be acceptable to them. If that is true, further reductions are scary.

I will add this. Stalin and his inner circle were likely relatively safe while 20 million citizens died. Were the US to retaliate to a Russian attack, nuclearly, today, odds are the Russian elite would be in the cross hairs in a way they were not in the big one.

The Gentleman:
Missile shield systems can also make adversaries much more paranoid about attack and send a very wrong message. For example, when US President Reagan touted the "Star Wars" missile shield program, the Russians were terrified that he would actually launch a first strike against them as he would have eliminated the MAD issue that was holding each of them back. To put it bluntly, everyone keeps a sword at their bedside for defense (i.e. warheads), but no one builds a full set of plate armor for defense (missile shield).

Sometimes the best defense is just to have a good offensive capacity.

That's an important point, yes. I'm not saying that building an ABM system is always going to be the best idea, merely that it's not inherently a bad idea.

thaluikhain:

The Gentleman:
Missile shield systems can also make adversaries much more paranoid about attack and send a very wrong message. For example, when US President Reagan touted the "Star Wars" missile shield program, the Russians were terrified that he would actually launch a first strike against them as he would have eliminated the MAD issue that was holding each of them back. To put it bluntly, everyone keeps a sword at their bedside for defense (i.e. warheads), but no one builds a full set of plate armor for defense (missile shield).

Sometimes the best defense is just to have a good offensive capacity.

That's an important point, yes. I'm not saying that building an ABM system is always going to be the best idea, merely that it's not inherently a bad idea.

When you're dealing with Doomsday scenarios, every option is a bad option. The question is just how bad it is. The law of unintended consequences plays a much larger role when one of those consequences could be annihilation.

The point is: never, ever think that a defensive system is inherently a good idea because it can't attack. There is something to insuring that both you and your adversary can kill each other that makes you less likely to start a fight.

The US can still probably blow up the world a couple of times with 1000 nukes so i don't see the danger of having "only" (only?!) 1000 nukes. If anything that will mean less maintenance and other inconveniences linked with sockpiling nukes.

Only 1,000 eh? How many do we have now? 1,800 thereabouts?

Hmmm...Well, I suppose if we do away with some of the older patterns and stuck with a fair mix of tactical, mid-grade, and End Times nukes, 1,000 may be juuuust the right amount.

Barely.

Gorfias:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
What in Gods name do they want 1000 nukes for? Jesus. One fucking thousand. Wow. Are you politicians insane? No, seriously, are they actually fucked in the head?

How on Earth are you even going to use a THOUSAND nukes? You can blow Iran up 60 times and still have enough to wipe out Western Europe. Just chill the fuck out for a second. Maybe if the US stopped murdering and threatening anyone from the middle East they can catch on the phone, you wouldn't need to "protect" yourselves so much.

FFS, you guys need a wipeout where politics and military establishments are concerned. Just fire fucking everybody and go from there. You have people in your country who can't even afford to fucking eat and the biggest thing everyones worrying about is having 200 nukes less, because woe is fucking America, then you might not be able to blow up our fucking galaxy whenever you feel like it.

I've read that Ronald Reagan (Blessings be upon him) was concerned that the very large arsenal we had in the 1980s would inflict about as much death upon the USSR as they sustained in WW2, something that might be acceptable to them. If that is true, further reductions are scary.

I will add this. Stalin and his inner circle were likely relatively safe while 20 million citizens died. Were the US to retaliate to a Russian attack, nuclearly, today, odds are the Russian elite would be in the cross hairs in a way they were not in the big one.

...How about we just don't wage wars? Is that really such a tall order? I know Russia and the US aren't exactly bros, but I doubt Russia would just randomly lob some nukes at the US because Putin had to much to drink the night before.

To add to that, while I'm no expert on nuclear weapons, I find it hard to believe they haven't become more efficient since the Reagan years. It's not like every nuke the US owns is from the 80's.

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
...How about we just don't wage wars? Is that really such a tall order?

Given that the US is currently bombing various nations despite not formerly being at war with them, and fighting continuing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Russia being at war with Georgia not long past, I'm going to say "yes".

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
To add to that, while I'm no expert on nuclear weapons, I find it hard to believe they haven't become more efficient since the Reagan years. It's not like every nuke the US owns is from the 80's.

What do you mean by "efficient"? Modern nuclear weapons are much less powerful then they used to be, it's not cost effective to build really big devices (that's why they had MRVs, works better to use 3 small ones than one 3 times the size), the only reason they had them was because they couldn't guarantee getting the device close to the target.

Nowdays, megaton yield devices are fairly rare (though useful for dealing with things like Yamantau, which is deep underground with a mountain on top, you need to keep throwing more devices into the craters to dig further and further downward until you get the complex). Also, you have variable yield devices, a bigger effect isn't always better.

I don't know if the delivery systems have improved much since the 80s, they were very accurate back then.

You only need so many nukes to provide a deterrent. The US will still have enough to raze all the capital cities of the world to the ground.

The only reason we had so many nukes in the first place was because of the vulnerability of their delivery systems. Now that we have everything down pretty solid with hardened silos for ICBMs and nearly undetectable boomers for our SLBMs we are secure. Thats not counting the multitudes of warheads we have in storage we can latch on fighters and deliver with bombers.

So now, they can only destroy the world roughly about 50 times, huh?

MammothBlade:
You only need so many nukes to provide a deterrent. The US will still have enough to raze all the capital cities of the world to the ground.

Not exactly, there's something like 200 nations in the world, hence around 200 capitols, that's only 5 each. Even if you are using one megaton devices, to destroy a major city is going to more than 5, and a lot of the US devices are far smaller than that. Of course, even a single device is going to make a hell of a mess.

Shock and Awe:
The only reason we had so many nukes in the first place was because of the vulnerability of their delivery systems. Now that we have everything down pretty solid with hardened silos for ICBMs and nearly undetectable boomers for our SLBMs we are secure. Thats not counting the multitudes of warheads we have in storage we can latch on fighters and deliver with bombers.

Not exactly, SSBNs were always almost undetectable, though they are used primarily as second strike weapons.

Hardening your ICBM silos only helps if your missiles are hit ont eh ground, which generally means something has gone wrong somewhere.

The US has so many missiles because you need that many if you want both to destroy Russia/the USSR, and have large amounts hidden underwater in case they get you first.

There are very many targets or suspected targets in a country the size of Russia, and they USSR didn't conveniently stick them all together. You have to assign multiple weapons at each target to ensure that it's destroyed, because some missiles will malfunction, be shot down, or fail to destroy their target.

As an aside, originally the UK had lots of targets they'd destroy in the case of WW3, but when the USSR got their defences in order, the UK had to swap to hitting Moscow, and only hitting Moscow. Moscow would be sufficiently destroyed, yes, but the defences meant the UK would even try for anything else. That's quite a success.

(And, as it happens, there wasn't anything particularly important in Moscow, the USSR just pretended their was so people would aim their missiles at it instead of at important places.)

thaluikhain:

MammothBlade:
You only need so many nukes to provide a deterrent. The US will still have enough to raze all the capital cities of the world to the ground.

Not exactly, there's something like 200 nations in the world, hence around 200 capitols, that's only 5 each. Even if you are using one megaton devices, to destroy a major city is going to more than 5, and a lot of the US devices are far smaller than that. Of course, even a single device is going to make a hell of a mess.

Let's just say their capital would be terribly crippled. And if you want, have the nukes target the CBDs of the five biggest/most important cities instead. It took just 2 nukes to force Japan to surrender in WWII. One large nuke hitting the centre of Manhattan would kill and displace millions of people and cost hundreds of billions to the USA as a country. It is extremely effective in destroying infrastructure and demoralising the enemy. You don't really need to raze cities completely for it to have a devastating effect. Of course, the primary targets wouldn't be non-nuclear nations, just China and Russia. 500 nukes each.

SpAc3man:
Somehow the ability to end all life on earth several times over is not enough.

Point of order here. A thousand nukes would not be enough to end all life on Earth, or even most of it (and no, I'm not just talking about a planet of the cockroaches scenario). Its pretty much just humanity that would be f*****, and that only because we are highly dependent on a system that is easy to disrupt. Hell, given a million nuclear ICBMs, you still couldn't do much to the overall biosphere in the long run.

Don't get me wrong, there would indeed be a lot of death and destruction, among animal species as well as our own. But primitive life is incredibly adaptable.

MammothBlade:
Let's just say their capital would be terribly crippled. And if you want, have the nukes target the CBDs of the five biggest/most important cities instead. It took just 2 nukes to force Japan to surrender in WWII. One large nuke hitting the centre of Manhattan would kill and displace millions of people and cost hundreds of billions to the USA as a country. It is extremely effective in destroying infrastructure and demoralising the enemy. You don't really need to raze cities completely for it to have a devastating effect.

Oh, I agree, you don't need to raze cities, that's my point, that's not what nuclear weapons do. You use them to target things of strategic importance, cities just "get in the way". But getting rid of all the important bits with nuclear weapons isn't as easy as some people make it out to be. Like I said before, the UK plan to destroy Moscow took every nuclear missile the UK had.

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