Long article but to the point...
Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks
By ROBERT BURNS - AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The foundation of America's nuclear arsenal is fractured, and the government has no clear plan to repair it.
The cracks appear not just in the military forces equipped with nuclear weapons but also in the civilian bureaucracy that controls them, justifies their cost, plans their future and is responsible for explaining a defense policy that says nuclear weapons are at once essential and excessive.
It's not clear that the government recognizes the full scope of the problem, which has wormed its way to the core of the nuclear weapons business without disturbing bureaucracies fixated on defending their own turf. Nor has it aroused the public, which may think nuclear weapons are relics of the past, if it thinks about them at all.
This is not mainly about the safety of today's weapons, although the Air Force's ...
Rather, this is about a broader problem: The erosion of the government's ability to manage and sustain its nuclear "enterprise," the intricate network of machines, brains and organizations that enables America to call itself a nuclear superpower.
What have been slipping are certain key building blocks — technical expertise, modern facilities and executive oversight on the civilian side, and discipline, morale and accountability on the military side.
The shortfalls are compounded by tight budgets and what experts call a decline in political support for the nuclear system. In the absence of a headline-grabbing nuclear accident in recent decades and receding fears of nuclear war, these problems generally are paid little heed.
The scientific and military capability is arguably the best in the world, but its underpinnings have weakened gradually.
The White House and Congress have paid little attention, allowing the responsible government agencies to "muddle through," according to a congressional advisory panel. This is the case despite the fact that the U.S. still has thousands of nuclear weapons — more than it says it needs — and is approaching decision points on investing enormous sums to keep the arsenal viable for future generations.
"This lack of attention has resulted in public confusion, congressional distrust and a serious erosion of advocacy, expertise and proficiency in the sustainment" of the nation's nuclear weapons capabilities, the panel on "Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise" said in a report in April that is expected to be updated soon.
The panel was led by retired Adm. Richard Mies, a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in charge of all U.S. nuclear forces, and Norman Augustine, a retired chairman of Lockheed Martin Corp.
Nuclear weapons, the panel said, have been "orphaned" by Washington. Although today's weapons are technologically sound, "there is no affordable, executable (government) vision, plan or program for the future of nuclear weapons capabilities." ...
The rest is at
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