Senator Ed Markey, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate on Friday 28 February, that would cut $100 billion over the next decade from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget. The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures, or "SANE" Act, is co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Jeff Merkley. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Earl Blumenauer.
The SANE Act is similar to one Markey introduced into the House of Representatives in 2012, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
"America faces a real choice: spend billions on nuclear weapons we no longer need or fund programs that educate our children and help find cures to deadly diseases," Markey said as he announced the bill at a crowded reception in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room held on the occasion of the 2014 PNND Assembly.
“We need to stop pouring billions into the nuclear weapons programs of the past and instead prioritize our nation’s pressing needs. The SANE Act will cut spending on outdated, wasteful nuclear weapons and related programs over the next ten years and will strengthen our long-term economic and national security” said Senator Markey.
Specifically, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act will:
- Reduce deployed strategic submarines from 14 to 8 and reduce the purchase of replacement submarines from 12 to 8 – saving $16 billion.
- Cut warhead life extension programs and defer the development of new ICBMs – saving $15 billion.
- Remove the nuclear mission from F-35s and delay the new long range bomber – saving over $32 billion.
- Cancel nuclear weapon making facilities and missile defense programs – saving $37 billion.
Programs to modernize various nuclear warheads would be done away with under the bill, and work would be delayed on a new class of intercontinental ballistic missiles, resulting in an estimated $15 billion in taxpayer dollars. The legislation would ax all missile-defense activities, and cancel plans to build new facilities for fissile-material processing in order to cut an additional $37 billion.
"As we’ve seen in recent stories, the human beings who control [nuclear weapons] can be unreliable," Blumenauer said in a statement included in the Markey release. He apparently was referring to recent scandals surrounding the Air Force's nuclear-missile mission, which have highlighted a number of problems with professionalism and morale inside the officer corps assigned to control the ICBMs.
The PNND reception at which Senator Markey announced the SANE Act featured Karipbek Kuyukov (Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project) along with Senator Markey, Kazakhstan Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Jonathan Granoff (President of the Global Security Institute) and Alyn Ware (PNND Global Coordinator) as speakers.
“It is my mission to be one of the last to suffer from nuclear testing,” Karipbek, a 2nd generation victim of Soviet nuclear tests who was born without arms, said of his desire to spare future generations from the horrors (birth defects, physical deformity, premature death) of nuclear weapons. The reception also featured an exhibition of the art of Karipbek who paints with his mouth and feet (See Nuclear Fallout Colors Pro-Test-Ban Artist’s Memories, in Roll Call which is distributed to every U.S. Congressional office).
The PNND Assembly brought parliamentarians from around the world to Washington to highlight the humanitarian imperative to abolish nuclear weapons, and to build cooperation with U.S. legislators and arms control advocates to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.