Author: Debate_Guru

The US Should Not Modernize Its Nuclear Weapons

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PRO (3 arguments)


Modernizing- building more of our current weapons and creating new nuclear weapons


1. This Nuclear programs will cost a trillion dollars to the government, therefore cutting research and development into more important conventional weapons causing the US to lose its military superiority.

We already have enough nuclear weapons to obliterate most of the world. Making more will not increase their use as a deterrent. More money spent on nuclear weapons means less money spent on conventional weapons like troops, naval ships, airplanes, drones, and missile defense systems. According to Barry Blechman, a weapons expert writing for the New York Times, the modernization of the nuclear program will essentially make our military weaker not stronger. 100 nuclear weapons could kill hundreds of millions of people in any nation. The close to 2,000 weapons now in the U.S. nuclear inventory would obliterate any adversary, and most of the world, as well, many times over. So more nuclear weapons will NOT serve as a deterrent since we can already kill most of the world with the weapons we already have. Not only do we not NEED more nuclear weapons, but we can’t afford the tremendous expense. President Obama authorized a nuclear modernization program that would cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years, and the US is already $19 trillion in debt. So we can’t afford this expense without making major cuts to more important and immediate needs like improving education, making health care accessible and affordable to all, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and improving conventional weapons. Moreover, it will impose an increasing burden on the defense budget, making it difficult to maintain our conventional military superiority – the real guarantee of U.S. security. Judge, a trillion dollars will be going to something that will make our government weaker and less superior. In an age where we have many dangerous countries with immense military power such as China and Russia the U.S cannot afford to lose its conventional military strength.


In the end this modernization spending will take away from infrastructure spending, social welfare programs and conventional military programs making the U.S less superior overall and more vulnerable.


New York Times; Real Clear Defense website

2. Nuclear weapons cause severe harm to the climate.

Climate change and pollution are real, and not going away.  Adding more pollution in the form of radioactive waste is only speeding up the process of make Earth uninhabitable for living things. Nuclear weapons produce toxic pollution at all phases of development: when they are made, test and stored. 

Nuclear weapons production sites produce vast amounts of radioactive waste, which can have devastating impacts on the surrounding environment.A clear example of this is the Hanford Nuclear Site in Eastern WA, which is the most contaminated nuclear site in the western world. At the height of plutonium production in 1957, eight plutonium production reactors dumped a daily average of 50,000 curies of radioactive material into the Columbia River.  Large volumes of radioactive waste have since been stored in 177 underground tanks, 67 of which have leaked a total of approximately one million gallons into the surrounding soil. Today, 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive and chemical waste, and 25 million cubic feet of solid waste, are stored at the Hanford site.

And judge, not only do old nuclear weapons have to be stored, once new nuclear weapons are made, they have to be tested, which released toxic radiation into the atmosphere. Do we really need to subject our fragile ecosystem to this pollution?  NASA has conducted computer simulations that show if nuclear weapons were actually used at the rate of 100 Hiroshima-size bombs, two to four years after the event, rainfall would decrease globally by an average of about 10 percent. This scenario also drives global stratospheric ozone loss and influences communities far away from the conflict. Agriculture, for example, would likely be disrupted from the combination of cooler temperatures, less precipitation and decreases in solar radiation reaching the surface. This would cause widespread interruptions to growing seasons by producing more frequent frosts.

Also, we already have plenty of evidence about how the storage of nuclear weapons causes permanent contamination to the Earth. Since 1945, eight countries have conducted 2,054 nuclear test explosions in locations all around the world. 528 early tests were conducted in the atmosphere, spreading radioactive material throughout the atmosphere. Underground tests have also vented radioactive material into the atmosphere and contaminated soil. Nuclear weapons testing has had a particularly harmful effect on land and marine environments due to bio-accumulation, meaning that radioactive material concentrates in organisms up the food chain. For example, Iodine-131 from US tests, especially during the 1950s, accumulated in rainfall runoff and in soil, which was taken up by grasses, then consumed by cows that produced contaminated milk, which was discovered throughout the US. Despite regulations, there have been many incidents of leaks and contamination from uranium mining for nuclear weapons into groundwater, waterways, and the nearby environment. For example, it was discovered after almost 10 years of operation that a uranium mine had leaked billions of liters of radioactive waste into groundwater at the Olympic Dam in Australia.No closed uranium mine in the world has been successfully cleaned up, and the waste remains radioactive and harmful for tens of thousands of years.


We can’t even clean up the mess left from nuclear weapon development from 70 years ago.  There is no need to make more nuclear weapons, so why should we continue to contaminate our already polluted Earth with more radioactive waste?


NASA; World Nuclear; Parliament of Australia

3. The future of US military superiority is in high-tech conventional weapons, not nuclear ones.

As we said, there are already enough nuclear weapons to assure mutual destruction of the world many times over.  It is VERY unlikely that any war will use nuclear weapons. It is far more likely that the US will use new high-tech conventional weapons to fight its adversaries. 

According to the Washington Post, a drive to build exotic versions of conventional weapons may sound crazy in a world that already has too much military conflict. But advocates argue that strengthening U.S. conventional forces might be the only way to avoid escalation to nuclear weapons if war with Moscow or Beijing began.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work argued for the new deterrence strategy which would leverage the United States’ technological superiority by creating weapons that could complicate attack planning by an adversary. As Russia and China modernize their militaries, the US must exploit its lead in high-tech warfare. In the world envisioned by Pentagon planners, the US could field an array of drones in the sky, unmanned submarines beneath the seas which would be dotted with an array of undersea sensors; “seabed payload pods” that could hide drones underwater until they were needed in a conflict; electromagnetic rail guns that can fire a projectile at seven times the speed of sound, and directed-energy weapons; high-energy lasers that could blind enemy sensors; and a range of other new technologies that could overwhelm an adversary’s battle-management networks. Like the two previous “offsets,” -  battlefield nuclear weapons in the 1950s and precise conventional weapons in the 1970s, -  this one would seek to restore lost U.S. military dominance. Pentagon officials say they decided over the past year to reveal some formerly top-secret weapons programs because the disclosure would complicate Russian and Chinese military planning. But they say they have concealed other programs to preserve warfighting effectiveness in any future conflict. U.S. officials contend that this push to offset Russian and Chinese gains will have a stabilizing effect in great-power relations, rather than a destabilizing one. “These initiatives would contribute to an effective offset strategy by affordably restoring U.S. power projection capability and capacity, bolstering conventional deterrence . . . and imposing costs upon prospective adversaries.” said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


The future is in high-tech conventional weaponry, and this is an area that the US can dominate. This is where our money and our focus should be, not on dumping money into more outdated and toxic nuclear weapons that will probably never be used.


The Washington Post; The Pentagon