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Intelligence Report | PARADE Magazine

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Intelligence Report®

By Lyric Wallwork Winik
Published: August 12, 2007

[Hot Topic]

Do We Need New Nukes?

While the world's eyes are trained on the nuclear-bomb programs of Iran and North Korea, the U.S. is quietly contemplating building a new arsenal of its own. We now have almost 10,000 nukes. The Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, proposed by the federal National Nuclear Security Administration, would replace them over the next two decades. "It's the same idea as replacing your home security system from 1960 with one from 2007," says Thomas D'Agostino of the NNSA, who claims the new warheads would be safer environmentally, more secure and more reliable.

This year the House denied funding for the program, estimated to cost $150 billion. Watchdog groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists argue that our current arsenal is highly reliable, and they urge caution. "If we go ahead, we'll lead the world in the wrong direction," warns Lisbeth Gronlund, a physicist with the UCS. "The power that nuclear weapons gave us in the past [to deter the Soviets in the Cold War] is not that useful today. There is another kind of power that comes from leading the world to relinquish those weapons." Indeed, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz recently called for a nuke-free world.

"Unless the world moves toward eliminating nuclear weapons, more nations—and eventually terrorists—will get bombs," adds Gronlund. D'Agostino disagrees, arguing that "RRW will not increase incentives for terrorists and rogue states to get such weapons. Those incentives are already high and unrelated to U.S. nuclear capabilities."

"Too few people are engaged in this debate," says Gronlund. "We need to expand it beyond the realm of government 'experts.'" So we'd like you to join the debate: Should our goal be a nuclear-free world, or are nukes still vital for our defense? And if we need them, should we build a new arsenal? Tell us in the comments section below.

Nuke Fast Facts*

• The U.S. has spent more than $5 trillion on nuclear weapons since the 1940s.

• We spend $6 billion a year maintaining our nuclear stockpile.

• The U.S. has almost 10,000 nukes; 5,000 are deployed, but this number is supposed to drop to 2,200 in the next five years.

• Russia has about 15,000 nukes; 5,700 are deployed, but this number is supposed to be reduced to 2,000 by 2012.

• France has about 350 nukes, Britain around 200, and China about 100 (20 can reach us).

*Based on the latest estimates.

[Giving Back]

Buying for a Cause

"Buy a (RED) T-shirt to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa" is proving to be a savvy selling strategy. Spending by consumers on such "cause marketing"—for everything from yogurt to T-shirts to Cartier watches—has risen from $120 million to $1.45 billion a year since 1990, according to Carol Adelman of the Hudson Institute.

How much of each sale actually reaches those in need? It varies. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says it gets up to 50% of the profits from the sales of various (RED) products. Some charities receive less than 5%. Others claim that they get 100% of the profits from sales, but of course it's usually more effective to donate directly to a charity.

Should our goal be a nuclear-free world, or are nukes still vital for our defense? And if we need them, should we build a new arsenal? Post your comment below.

READER COMMENTS | 139 Comments

Add a comment
More Nukes?
By Stevie Fairchild on 8/17/2007 10:50:PM

The US definitely does not need to spemd more money on continuing to build our nuclear arsenal! Instead we should invest in education, health care, and re-building our image internationally!

Nuclear Weapons
By Harold on 8/17/2007 9:51:PM

Our goalconcerning nuclear weapons, should be, a nuclear free world!

All we need is love
By electriclady281 on 8/17/2007 8:24:PM

Not hearts, cupids, flowers, and rhetoric, but to live our lives in love with life, humanity, nature, and God by any name. What we need is a limitless arsenal of love.

Are nuclear weapons still vital for our defense?
Results based on a total of 6130 responses
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