Even as Russia adds bleeding edge hypersonic missiles to its nuclear arsenal, and China is frenetically doubling its nuclear force by 2030, two far left Democrat representatives have submitted a bill to shift the funds for a new U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) to replace our ageing land-based nuclear missile deterrence force, to vaccine research for future pandemics. The cutely phrased Investing in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Act, offered by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., would curtail, if not eliminate spending on the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.
It is the second attempt by left wing Democrats to eliminate funds for a much-needed new ICBM.
As Defense News (DN) reports:
If enacted, the ICBM Act would prohibit the U.S. government for using fiscal 2022 spending on the GBSD program and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s W87-1 warhead modification program.
Instead, $1 billion of unobligated funds from the GBSD program would be transferred to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for research on a universal coronavirus vaccine that would protect against future pandemics. Unobligated funds from the W87-1 modification program would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for infectious disease research.
DN continued by quoting Representative Marky as saying:
The United States should invest in a vaccine of mass prevention before another new land-based weapon of mass destruction. The ICBM Act makes clear that we can begin to phase out the Cold War nuclear posture that risks accidental nuclear war while still deterring adversaries and assuring allies, and redirect those savings to the clear and present dangers presented by coronaviruses and other emerging and infectious diseases.
The GBSD is a $93-$96 billion program designed as a replacement for the extremely old LGM-30G Minuteman III nuclear missile. Representative Khanna stated that instead of wasting money on a new missile, the Air Force should simply extend the life of the current Minuteman IIIs.
However, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) chief Admiral Charles Richard said in January: “You cannot life-extend Minuteman III. It is getting past the point of [where] it’s not cost-effective to life-extend Minuteman III. You’re quickly getting to the point [where] you can’t do it at all.”
STRATCOM and the Air Force have repeatedly stated that the GBSD program is the only way forward to cost-effectively modernize the land-based missile leg of the U.S. nuclear triad and maintain a strong nuclear deterrence. Fortunately, even with a favorable administration in the White House, this bill faces strong bipartisan opposition in Congress. ADN