US Must Fund Urgent $270Bln Nuclear Weapons Upgrade Plan - DoD Official
According to US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, the US necessary modernization of the US nuclear deterrent force will cost $18 billion a year from 2021 through 2035.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States has to spend $18 billion a year for 15 years to modernize its entire nuclear deterrent force or risk losing it entirely, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work told the House of Representatives House Armed Services Committee.
"Carrying out this is a very expensive proposition [that will cost] $18 billion a year from 2021 through 2035. A strong nuclear deterrent force will remain critical to our national security for the foreseeable future. … This is the highest priority for the Department of Defense."
Work said Congress and previous administrations had repeatedly put off the challenge of modernizing the US strategic nuclear force in half a century, but now aging systems were reaching the end of their lifespan and needed to be replaced.
"This level of spending will require a very high level of commitment from US political leaders in both the administration and Congress."
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff US Navy Admiral James Winnefeld Jr. supported Work's argument.
"Systems age and need to be replaced. [This will cost] a large bill over a relatively short time."
The nuclear modernization program was needed at a time when US financial and military resources were becoming more limited, Winnefeld acknowledged, but the effort could no longer be deferred.
"There's no slack left in the system. We will need stable, long-term funding."
Winnefeld explained the Defense Department would have to make major cuts in many other areas to fund the priority nuclear program.
"That is going to make a lot of people inside and outside the Department of defense very unhappy," he said.
However, Work warned that if the modernization program was not carried out, the United States would lose its credible deterrent capability in the 2020s and 2030s.
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