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The corporate media is focused on the question of how or if Iran could ever break out of its promise under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eschew nuclear weapons and use reactors only for civilian uses. So many headlines refer to sanctions imposed against Iran that millions of people mistakenly think Iran has a nuclear arsenal. It doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the Congress in January, as it prepared to slash the food stamp program, fully funded the B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb “Life Extension.” This year’s $537 million is the down payment on what the crazy-ass millionaires in D.C. agreed should get $11 billion over the next few years.
Dubbed the “solid gold nuke” by critics, the 700-pound H-bomb is running $28 million apiece at the moment. That much gold bullion is only worth $16 million.
The program to replace today’s B61 models with a new “Mod 12” is being condemned by our allies in NATO, by Congressional budget hawks, and of course the entire arms control community. Even former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright has said the bombs are “practically nil” in military value. (Gen. Cartwright is partly right. Since it seems the Department of Defense is in the business of manufacturing suicide—among veterans and active-duty soldiers by the thousands—the suicidal mission of deploying B61s across Europe for detonation there seems a perfect fit.)
“This decision represents the triumph of entrenched nuclear interests over good government. The B-61 is no longer relevant for U.S. national security, but continues to rob billions of dollars from programs that would make America safer,” President Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund told Hans M. Kristensen at the Federation of American Scientists.
Kristensen reported March 13 that the Pentagon has decided that the new B61 Mod 12 will begin its deployment in Europe next year.
The B61 is a 300– to 500-kiloton “variable yield” thermonuclear device and has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the U.S. bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945. Still, this machine’s threat of meaningless, genocidal, radioactive violence is called “tactical.”
Rush to Deploy New Gravity
H-bomb Before It’s Killed by
The Air Force budget makes it appear that the older B61s will all be replaced—in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany—by 2020. This rush job is being hustled through the military-industrial complex in a very quick hurry because the broad international condemnation of the program is gaining depth and breadth.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep Jared Polis, D-Colo., all tried to curtail the program last year. Five NATO partners (Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway) asked four years ago that the B61s be removed permanently from Europe. In Germany, every major political party has formally resolved to make the withdrawal of the 20 remaining B61s part of their platforms.
Major U.S. allies in Europe informed Gen. Cartwright’s slam. Senior European politicians have been saying the B61s are “militarily useless” ever since the end of the Cold War. In a widely published op-ed in 2010, former NATO secretary-general Willy Claes and three other senior Belgian politicians said, “The U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe have lost all military importance.”
Still, Kristensen reports, “integration” of the new B61 is supposed to take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16 jets and on German and Italian Tornado fighter-bombers.
Another reason for the rush to deploy the perfectly retire-able and useless B61 is that Germany is considering replacing its Tornados in the coming years. All the expense of refurbishing current fighter-bombers to carry a “more accurate” and “more usable” H-bomb could also be made moot by progress in arms control. In its 2012 posture review, even NATO’s ministers pledged to work for a world without nuclear weapons.
The “nuclear sharing” arrangement with technically non-nuclear states in NATO glaringly contradicts, in Kristensen’s words, “the non-proliferation standards that member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.”
So as the White House and its Secretary of State wag fingers at Iran, we and our NATO friends openly violate the binding promise made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”
Maybe Iran can arrange for some sanctions to be imposed on us.
— John LaForge works for Nukewatch and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.