In a time of budget cuts, and with their leadership constantly insisting there isn’t enough funding to go around, the Pentagon is planning to “modernize” the B61 tactical nuclear weapons in a plan they estimate to cost at least $10 billion.
“The B61 is the only weapon in the stockpile that fulfills both tactical and strategic missions,” insisted Gen. Robert Kehler, who insisted the plan was vital in testimony to Congress last week.
The US made the first B61s in the 1970’s, and has created nearly a dozen variants, spending billions of dollars on an arsenal whose entire point was to defend against a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.
The weapons were never used, and many decades later the Pentagon is now salivating at replacing them with the new, more powerful B61-12, costs be damned.
Analysts and the GAO are not nearly so thrilled, saying the plan is “unaffordable” and “unnecessary,” not to mention explicitly violating President Obama’s promise not to create any “new” nuclear weapons, since despite being officially a replacement, they also include major new capabilities for aggressive nuclear warfare.
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