US needs new nuclear weapons: Military experts

US needs new nuclear weapons: Military experts

Mon Dec 1, 2014 1:48AM GMT

A group of US military strategists is calling for a new generation of nuclear weapons saying the country’s nuclear warheads are aged.

A number of military strategists, scientists and congressional leaders have proposed building a new generation of hydrogen bombs in the US, pointing that the existing warheads in the stockpile are an average 27 years old, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We should get rid of our existing warheads and develop a new warhead that we would test to detonation,” said John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and now president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We have the worst of all worlds: older weapons and large inventories that we are retaining because we are worried about their reliability.”

Military strategists claim they also feel threatened of a nuclear war that Russian President Vladimir Putin might wage against them.

They feel more comfortable talking about new nuclear weapons as the incoming Republican-controlled Congress could be more open to exploring new military possibilities.

“It seems like common sense to me if you’re trying to keep an aging machine alive that’s well past its design life, then you’re treading on thin ice,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman-elect of the House Armed Services Committee, referring to the rusty nuclear complex.

The strategists call not only for new weapons but fresh underground tests for the first time since 1992.

Thornberry said he was for fresh testing of the nuclear weapons, which provide “the foundation for which all our national security is based on.”

“We have so much enriched uranium and plutonium left from old weapons that we could use it properly for a new generation of weapons,” said Don Hicks, who directed the Pentagon’s strategic weapons research during the Reagan administration.

The Los Angeles Times report notes that building new nuclear weapons requires billions of dollars and that most US nuclear lab scientists are now older than 50, and younger scientists have no experience building a weapon.

Calls for a renewed nuclear arsenal come two decades after the US announced scaling back its nuclear power in the aftermath of the Cold War.

The US has now a stockpile of 4,804 nuclear weapons, down from a peak of 31,000 in 1967. Russia also has a stockpile of about the same size.

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