New Steps Taken to Augment the U.S. Nuclear Triad

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA, May 21, 2018

Despite international bans on expanding its nuclear forces, the U.S. government is carrying forward an all-sided program of honing and growing its massive nuclear arsenal.

On May 10, the U.S. Energy Department and the Department of Defense announced a new decision to migrate the industrial processing of defense plutonium to a Savannah River production facility in South Carolina. The endeavor is part of the government program for making plutonium cores for nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Congress, sucking the life-blood of the people, has already approved the billions of dollars which will be spent on the contracts for this phase in the development of a “next generation” of nuclear weapons. Plans include “mini-nukes” – low-yield nuclear weapons designed to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and to boost the Pentagon’s nuclear war option in the face of overwhelming and permanent worldwide opposition to its use by the U.S. at the end of WWII.

According to the standard definition of nuclear weapon states as those that built and successfully tested nuclear explosive devices prior to the close of 1966, there are five nuclear weapons states. They are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA.

Each of the nuclear weapons states signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the promise that it would eliminate its own nuclear weapons.

Despite being a signatory to the NPT, U.S. imperialism never made good on its promises to eliminate its nuclear weapons arsenal. So too, U.S. imperialism has repeatedly violated the treaty by threatening to use nuclear weapons against the peoples of Korea, Lebanon, Vietnam, Iran and elsewhere.

Today, the government of the American people maintains the ability to put an end to several times the population of the entire world with its nuclear weapons hoard. The smallest of the strategic nuclear weapons the U.S. has is powerful enough to obliterate a whole city.

The U.S. government currently maintains a stockpile of over 7,200 nuclear warheads. It is able to deploy these weapons through 430 ICBMs, 230 SLBMs, and 80 bombers. The U.S. is the only country that deploys nuclear weapons in other countries. The “protective nuclear umbrella” of U.S. imperialism is a chain around the necks of the European peoples and the peoples in countries suffering from U.S. neo-colonial and colonial domination.

The U.S. government uses its strategic nuclear superiority and nuclear blackmail in order to maintain and expand the size of the empire of the U.S. multi-national corporations, which plunder the resources and super-exploit the labor of peoples throughout the world. To control sources of raw materials, maintain its strategic spheres of influence and domination, and to extract the maximum profit from the superexploitation of the labor of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples, U.S. imperialism relies, above all, on military might – including its policy of nuclear superiority and shakedown.

As the first and most powerful nuclear state, U.S. imperialism has repeatedly used its nuclear weapons as an instrument of its aggressive aims. Not only did the U.S. drop atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but since that time it has also blackmailed other countries and peoples with threats of nuclear war and annihilation.

Since 1997, all US presidential guidelines (Presidential Policy Directives) for waging a nuclear war have included the following:

a) focus on responding quickly and decisively to more limited attacks against smaller nations such as Libya (until 2011), Iran, Iraq (until 2003), and North Korea. The Pentagon is to be given maximum flexibility in planning such nuclear attacks. This replaced the previous focus on fighting a prolonged nuclear conflict against another superpower.

b) reserve the option of using nuclear arms to retaliate against “non-nuclear threats.”

c) maintain nuclear weapons as the cornerstone of U.S. strategic “defense” programs, and to reserve the right to be the first to use nuclear arms during a conflict. U.S. war planners are directed to retain long-standing options for nuclear strikes against the military and civilian leadership and against nuclear forces in Russia. The existing U.S. nuclear “triad” of bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles are to be maintained.

The struggle against militarism and for peace must be directed against U.S. imperialism and the other “Great Power” states, who hold their nuclear swords over the whole world and carry out interference and aggression against the peoples.

U.S. imperialism, which boasts of the most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, remains both the foremost nuclear war danger as well as the main source of international antagonism and instability in the world of the 21st century.

The American people will not allow the big monopolies and the capitalist state a free hand to pursue their program of global hegemony and nuclear blackmail. We must fight every step of the way against all the aggressive measures of the U.S. government.

In the final analysis, we can only secure ourselves from the grave danger of nuclear war when nuclear weapons are taken out of the hands of the imperialist countries by the peoples, and the imperialist system itself is abolished.