Senior Dems want nuclear warhead audit


Two senior House Democrats have asked the head of the Government Accountability Office for an audit on potential modernization of U.S. nuclear warheads.

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (Wash.) and House Appropriations Energy and Water subcommittee ranking member Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) sent a letter last week to U.S. comptroller general Gene Dodaro, questioning “the affordability and need” for “interoperable” warheads that can work on multiple kinds of delivery systems. The letter was first reported by CQ Roll Call.

The interoperable warheads would be used on two new systems, the Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic missile and the Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missile.

{mosads}“We are concerned there is a lack of detailed analysis or clear need for this program, including continuing uncertainty about the reason for developing and producing a new warhead and the funding costs that could detract from key programs needed to sustain the rest of the nuclear enterprise,” Smith and Kaptur wrote.

Several lawmakers have expressed concerns about President Trump’s stated goals of building up the U.S. nuclear arsenal and remarks at a September presidential debate that he would not rule out being the first country in a conflict to use nuclear weapons — the “first strike” option.

Trump also wrote on Twitter in December that the United States should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”

But the planned Navy and Air Force upgrades are expected to cost more than $1 trillion to acquire and operate, CQ Roll Call reported. 

Smith has long spoken out against building up the country’s nuclear arsenal, suggesting instead that the United States could shrink it to save valuable dollars maintaining the stockpile.  

Smith argued last week that such a plan would suck “all of the money out of the budget.”

The lawmakers want the GAO to examine the warhead need, as well alternative options, “as soon as possible.”

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