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Last Chance to Stop Trump’s “More Usable” Nuclear Warhead is Now

Friday, January 25, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

This week, Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), the incoming Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, joined forces to reintroduce the “Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act” to prevent deployment of a new, more usable submarine-launched nuclear warhead.

Specifically, they circulated what’s called a “Dear Colleague” letter, which goes out to congressional offices asking other Members to join Reps. Lieu and Smith in introducing the bill this year.

The Congressmen begin the letter: “We invite you to join as an original cosponsor of the reintroduction of the Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act. Our legislation would reverse course on an unnecessary and destabilizing new low-yield nuclear warhead to be carried on US submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”

The letter continues, “Last May, more than 30 former officials, including former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Secretary of State George Schultz, and former Senator Richard Lugar, wrote a bipartisan letter rejecting the low-yield warhead as ‘dangerous, unjustified and redundant’.”

The Dear Colleague letter notes the new majority in the 116th Congress - and the fresh opportunity that represents to stop the deployment of this new warhead. The letter asks Members of Congress to contact Corey Jacobson, the Legislative Director for Rep. Lieu to sign on. That email address is: [email protected]

How can you help?

First, contact your Representative. The capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121. Ask for the Defense Aide, if he or she is available. Tell any staff person with whom you speak that you want your member of Congress to cosponsor this important bill. Be sure to mention the “Dear Colleague” letter that Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Adam Smith circulated. A link to the letter is HERE for easy reference.

Note: If the staff person is not sure whether the office received the Dear Colleague letter, you can give the staffer Corey Jacobson’s email address to follow up.

What is this new warhead?

As described in the Trump Nuclear Posture Review and fiscal 2019 budget, the new nuke, dubbed the W76-2, will be a submarine-launched low yield variant to sit atop Trident D5 missiles.

Reports indicate that its nuclear yield will be around 6.5 kilotons, about half the size of Hiroshima. According to the President, this new low-yield option will make a U.S. nuclear strike more “credible.” And, that’s the problem. In plain language, those words mean it’s more likely to be used. This warhead will lower the threshold for nuclear use and make a nuclear war more likely.

Why should you act immediately?

Certainly one reason is that the Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act has a real chance of passage this year, especially if it gathers a large number of cosponsors in the House. But that’s not the only reason immediate action is needed.

Because this low-yield, more usable W76-2 is a relatively simple modification of the existing higher-yield W76, with parts of its nuclear explosive package removed, it can be developed in short order. It initially showed up in the budget last year.

Today (January 25, 2019) a reporter for the industry-publication Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor, Dan Leone, tweeted out: “The Pantex Plant has initiated assembly of the W76-2 First Production Unit.”

Leone further notes that the Trump Administration says the National Nuclear Security Administration “is on track to complete the W76-2 Initial Operational Capability warhead quantity and deliver the units to the Navy by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.”

That means that this dangerous, more usable warhead could be rolling off the assembly line and headed toward its next phase (deployment) by September 30th. Stopping it next year could be too late.

Now is the time to stop the W76-2.  The Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act is the way. Call your member of Congress today.

Again, the capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121. The good news is that it’s not too late. If enough people call, and the new Congress acts, we can do this!

CLICK HERE for the Dear Colleague letter