The Obama administration, seeking to bolster congressional support for the new strategic arms treaty with Russia, plans to spend $180 billion over the next decade to upgrade the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, keep warheads capable and modernise strategic delivery systems, according to documents delivered to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates scheduled to testify in support of the treaty next week, the administration sent lawmakers the treaty package, including a classified report that lays out in detail its program to sustain “a strong nuclear deterrent for the duration of the new START treaty and beyond.”
The treaty requires the US to reduce its stockpile of missiles and bombers that can launch nuclear weapons. Republicans had been insistent that they would not support the treaty unless the US nuclear weapons complex is modernised so that more nuclear weapons can be built if needed.
The administration on Thursday released a one-page unclassified summary of the classified report sent to lawmakers. That summary shows that spending on modernization of the nuclear weapons complex over the decade will reach $80 billion, growing from $6.4 billion this year to $7 billion in coming years and eventually topping $8 billion beginning in 2016.
The growing costs reflect not just construction of facilities but also the refurbishment and possible replacement of some warheads in the next decade, all without the need for testing.
An additional $100 billion is to be spent on strategic nuclear delivery systems such as bombers and land- and submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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