U.S walks a fine line on safety
When it comes to the extremely dangerous and large stockpile of nuclear weapons in the United States there remains a very fine line between safety and disaster.
Last week, United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a no-nonsense “heads-up” regarding safety and security of America’s nuclear forces during a speech at the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb.
Hagel’s comments arrive in the wake of a clearly dismal year for America’s nuclear warriors.
In August, safety and security lapses were discovered at a Montana nuclear base. Then in October, for example, two senior nuclear leaders were bounced in the wake of misconduct probes.
Military officials maintain America’s nuclear cache is secure and safe. That reassurance is good as far as it goes, but the fact remains that safety of nuclear weapons should always be a paramount priority for our armed forces.
Since the end of the Cold War and the seemingly endless War on Terror, nuclear weapons and their massive destructive power has seemingly been relegated to the background of America’s collective consciousness.
Yet our nation has spent a great deal of time and taxpayer dollars since the end of World War II developing these weapons of mass destruction.
Between the 1940s and the mid-1990s America spent more than $7 trillion on nuclear weapons. Since 1945, America produced more than 65,000 nuclear warheads.
By 2010, the U.S. retained just over 5,000 nuclear-tipped warheads.
The question isn’t really whether we need to keep a nuclear arsenal — the world is, after all, a dangerous place — but whether the existing weapons on hand are handled in a safe way and secure way.
Because just one accident, one miscue with one weapon would translate into a disaster beyond anything our nation has seen since the advent of the atomic age.
Hagel’s comments are well placed but more needs to be done to reassure the American public that its costly — and some say redundant — nuclear weapons stash remains safe and secure.
The people of this great nation need a broader and more well-defined guarantee.