Opinion: Nuclear program could have catastrophic financial consequences

Ava Gallagher

Under current conditions, America risks dwelling in a nuclear-powered financial haze.

With all the hoopla lately regarding the fiscal cliff, sequestration, the debt ceiling, and the economic shortcomings of the United States, it is truly a question why there hasn’t been more of a public outcry against the nuclear program.

There are currently 1,700 strategic nuclear warheads circulating around the globe, with that number set to be reduced to 1,550 by 2018. President Obama and his administration are quietly trying to reduce the number even further. U.S. national security advisor Tom Donilon will soon be going to Moscow to discuss with Russia the further disarmament of the two nations’ great nuclear stockpiles. The goal of the United States is to reduce the number of nuclear weapons to 1,000 in the near future, although this rests entirely on the cooperation of Russia and other countries with nuclear capabilities.

But the necessity to cut nuclear programs remains a top priority, both in terms of national defense and in spending. Over the next decade, the U.S. is set to spend more than $600 billion on their nuclear program, not including the plans to modernize the nuclear arsenal. In a time where Social Security and Medicare are facing dire spending cuts that will immediately and gravely impact the lives of American citizens, does it seem right that a program that doesn’t directly influence American people should get such a high budget?

Nuclear weapons do offer protection, especially as militant and anti-American governments are quickly obtaining nuclear capabilities. Iran and North Korea continue to ramp up their nuclear testing, despite crippling economic sanctions from their countries. Other militant terrorist groups throughout the world continue to fund nuclear research and look for ways to implement nuclear weaponry. So it would seem logical that the United States would need to maintain a harboring of a great nuclear arsenal. But why? These weapons are rarely, if ever, used due to the widespread destruction and devastation that they cause. During the Cold War, both countries refused to actually launch a nuke because of the fear that a global nuclear war inflicted.

For countries like Iran and North Korea, their willingness to launch a nuke is reduced by the knowledge that the United States and Russia together could wipe out their countries hundreds of times over with their wide arsenal. So why have the need to continue spending billions of dollars that this country doesn’t have on maintaining an irrationally large stockpile of devastating weapons?

What the U.S. should do instead is continue to pursue avenues that President Obama briefly explored during his first tenure in office. American correspondents should continue to negotiate with Russia and NATO to create an equal reduction of nuclear warheads and should continue to hamper Iran and North Korea from obtaining a nuclear warhead. In the meantime, the government should take the massive savings from the should-be defunct nuclear program and instead pour that money into education, economic reform, social welfare programs, and other avenues of American life that are desperately in need of an uplift.