Appropriators: No Funds for Sea-Launched Nuke

Nuclear-armed “Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles” (SLCMs), estimated at $9 billion, are dangerous and unnecessary weapons that have been rejected by four previous Republican and Democratic administrations. After the Cold War, George H.W. Bush removed and put these missiles in storage to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament. Obama finally retired this weapon 10 years ago. Under the Trump administration, these weapons were reintroduced, moving us ever-closer to potential nuclear disaster. They have found their way into the Biden budget, despite the president's words on the campaign trail that the SLCM-N is "a bad idea."


Just a few weeks ago, a leaked Navy memo said that they didn’t want, or need, these nukes either. Instead of wasting more of our hard-earned tax dollars on new nukes, we should be addressing the many real challenges Americans are facing: hunger, housing, healthcare, and voting rights, to name just a few. Appropriators must recognize the colossal waste of money that the SLCM represents and remove it from the defense budget.

June 29, 2021


Dear Members of the House Appropriations Committee,

The United States does not need a new nuclear sea launched cruise missile (SLCM-N).

Spending $15 million on this system now, before the Biden administration has even started its Nuclear Posture Review and when the Navy may cancel the program next year is wasteful, destabilizing, and just another example of a broken defense acquisition process.

These weapons are relics of a Cold War nuclear warfighting plan to use nuclear weapons not as a strategic deterrent, but to augment conventional forces in battlefield roles. This concept did not make sense then and makes even less sense now. In fact, it flies in the face of the joint statement issued by Presidents Biden and Putin this summer, when they echoed the words of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Three decades have passed since the United States last deployed nuclear cruise missiles at sea. President George H.W. Bush directed the nuclear Tomahawk Land Attack Missile to be taken off patrol in 1991 at the end of the Cold War.

Prior to the Trump administration, two Democratic and two Republican administrations had agreed that we no longer needed to deploy nuclear armed cruise missiles on conventional Navy ships, deeming them redundant, destabilizing, and detracting from higher priority conventional missions. President Biden himself called this weapon in 2019 a “bad idea” and he replied to a 2020 Council for a Livable World questionnaire saying that the United States did not need new nuclear weapons. The 2020 Democratic Platform said that “the Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.”

Yet, there is currently $15.2 million requested in the fiscal year 2022 budget to begin development of this Trump-era weapon, including $5.2 million in Navy funding for the missile itself and $10 million in National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) funding for the W80-4 warhead alteration for the SLCM-N. This money is a waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

This summer, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker directed the service to plan to defund the system in fiscal year 2023 and there have been other reports that the Navy is not happy with the proposal, privately telling lawmakers that “the introduction of nuclear cruise missiles to the fleet would present both budgetary and logistical headaches for the service.” Such burdens could include returning nuclear weapons to states and bases that haven’t housed them in 30 years, retraining and certification of attack submarine or destroyer crews to maintain and secure nuclear weapons, or adding unnecessary time to deployments to have ships travel to nuclear storage facilities to be armed with non-mission critical munitions. This could also cause significant problems for our allies in the Pacific, who will not allow vessels armed with nuclear weapons to visit their ports or train with their units.

Furthermore, when it comes to deterring China, Pentagon officials have repeatedly made clear their view that the greatest threat posed in the Indo-Pacific region is the erosion of conventional—not strategic—deterrence. Adding a nuclear cruise missile to platforms that regularly deploy conventional cruise missiles will not boost conventional power, since the nuclear cruise missiles would replace conventional ones, but it would increase the chance of a conflict escalating into a nuclear one as both conventional and nuclear cruise missiles share an essentially indistinguishable radar signature.

Again, we believe that spending anything on this system, before the Biden administration has even started its Nuclear Posture Review and when the Navy may well cancel the program next year, is wasteful, dangerous and contrary to our national interest.

Cutting this program’s funding now would be good for the nation, our national security and prevent a major waste of taxpayer dollars.

Sincerely,

Alliance for Survival

Arms Control Association

Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace

Basel Peace Office

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee

Beyond Nuclear

Beyond the Bomb

Campaign for Peace, Disarmament & Common Security

Carlsbad Mennonite Church

Center on Conscience and War

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition

Citizens' Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT)

CODEPINK

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Council for a Livable World

Democratic Socialists of America San Francisco, CA Chapter - Ecosocialist Committee

Don't Waste Arizona

Earth Care

Ecological Options Network

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW)

Environmentalists Against War

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Foreign Policy for America

Global Security Institute

Global Zero

Green State Solutions

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Haydenville Congregational Church - Peace and Justice Committee

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks

Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment

Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

New Energy Economy

New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Nuclear Watch South

Nukewatch

Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA)

On Behalf Of Planet Earth

Parents Against the Santa Susana Field Lab

Partnership for Earth Spirituality

Peace Action

Peace Action Maine

Peace Action of Wisconsin

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles

Ploughshares Fund

Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS)

Progressive Democrats of America

Psychologists for Social Responsibility

RootsAction.org

San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

SEED Coalition

Snake River Alliance

Success Capital Organisation

Sunflower Alliance

Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy

Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

Union of Concerned Scientists

Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance