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house Bill H.R. 6840

Should the U.S. Stop Developing a Low-Yield Nuclear Warhead?

Argument in favor

Low-yield nuclear weapons are unnecessary given what’s already in the U.S. arsenal. They also carry the risk of dragging the U.S. into a nuclear war, and are expensive to develop and maintain.

Leon's Opinion
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10/12/2018
We have enough. Work on something that takes chemical toxins out of groundwater from polluters.
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Helwine's Opinion
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10/12/2018
Stop trying to make the earth a unhabitable planet.
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UTEngie's Opinion
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10/12/2018
We already have issues maintaining our current fleet of nuclear weapons, why would we want to add more just to use as a "threat"? Building these LYNWs is just another expense that will cost us in the long run.
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Argument opposed

The U.S. needs low-yield nuclear weapons to deter adversaries, especially Russia. These weapons are part of an “escalate to deescalate” strategy that’d avoid all-out nuclear war.

JTJ's Opinion
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10/12/2018
Everyone wants a nuclear free world, but that is not reality. We must continually develop new weapons, and maintain our aging weapons. It is necessary and the responsible thing to do.
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Randy 's Opinion
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10/12/2018
United States of America is a super power and we need every deterrent possible straight so we don’t ever have to use them
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Tooluser1's Opinion
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10/12/2018
Options are good. Believable deterrents are exceptional
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Armed Services
      Strategic Forces
    IntroducedSeptember 17th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 6840?

This bill — known as the Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (LYNE) Act — would prohibit the provision of funds for the research, development, production, and deployment of the Trident D5 low-yield nuclear warhead.

Impact

Nuclear weapons research and development; Trident D5 low-yield nuclear warhead; Dept. of Defense; and the Dept. of Energy.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6840

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced this bill to prohibit the research, development, production, and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles:

“There’s no such thing as a low-yield nuclear war. Use of any nuclear weapon, regardless of its killing power, could be catastrophically destabilizing. It opens the door for severe miscalculation and could drag the U.S. and our allies into a devastating nuclear conflict. That’s why [we] introduced the Hold the LYNE Act, to ensure we won’t lower our standards for launching a nuclear weapon.”

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who sponsored the Senate version of this bill, observes that no nuclear weapon is safe, and argues that low-yield nuclear weapons in fact have the potential to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, increasing the risk of entering the U.S. into nuclear war:

“Developing a ‘low-yield’ nuclear warhead for America’s ballistic missile submarine fleet is the height of fiscal and political folly. There is no military requirement for this weapon. Its indistinguishability from any other submarine-launched nuclear weapon risks a miscalculation. Its development is just a further example of how the Trump administration is surrendering decades of American leadership that have helped move the world away from the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon, and the Trump administration’s attempt to market a new one is ill-advised and dangerous.”

President Trump’s nuclear strategy, unveiled earlier in 2018, calls for the development of low-yield nuclear weapons to deter threats from North Korea, Russia, and China. To this end, the administration has requested $23 million in the 2019 budget to flight-test the lower-yield warhead variant on a Trident submarine before deployment. The head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Gen. John Hyten, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he “strongly agrees” that the Pentagon should acquire low-yield nuclear warheads to deter Russia:

“That capability is a deterrence weapon to respond to the threat that Russia in particular is portraying. [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin announced as far back as April of 2000 that the Russian doctrine will be to use a low-yield nuclear weapon on the battlefield in case of a conventional overmatch with an adversary.”

This strategy has been called “escalate to deeescalate,” meaning that Russia would employ low-yield tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional battle, forcing the U.S. to either escalate the conflict with higher-yield strategic nukes or concede.

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services with the support of 10 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. It’s also supported by the Arms Control Association, Global Zero, Union of Concerned Scientists, Ploughshares, Win Without War, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Peace Action, and others.


Of Note: The U.S. has come close to nuclear war in the past. On September 26, 1983, Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov made a split-second decision and deemed a supposed missile attack from the U.S. to be an error, refusing out carry out an order to counter-attack, thus avoiding a potential nuclear war. Had Petrov not made that personal judgment, it’s likely the U.S. and Soviet Union would have begun a nuclear war.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal already includes a low-yield nuclear warhead on the B61 gravity bomb, which has an adjustable yield that can go as low as 0.3 kilotons. But the B61 and its modifications can only be launched from aircraft, which Defense Secretary James Mattis says could be “vulnerable to formidable Russian air defenses.”

Some nuclear non-proliferation proponents argue that there’s no such thing as a limited nuclear warGeorge Shultz, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s top diplomat, said: “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there.” More recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “I don’t think there’s any such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game changer.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / RomoloTavani)

AKA

Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive Act

Official Title

To prohibit the research and development, production, and deployment of the Trident D5 low-yield nuclear warhead, and for other purposes.

    We have enough. Work on something that takes chemical toxins out of groundwater from polluters.
    Like (112)
    Follow
    Share
    Everyone wants a nuclear free world, but that is not reality. We must continually develop new weapons, and maintain our aging weapons. It is necessary and the responsible thing to do.
    Like (73)
    Follow
    Share
    Stop trying to make the earth a unhabitable planet.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    We already have issues maintaining our current fleet of nuclear weapons, why would we want to add more just to use as a "threat"? Building these LYNWs is just another expense that will cost us in the long run.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    United States of America is a super power and we need every deterrent possible straight so we don’t ever have to use them
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    Just what we need is more nuclear weapons-we already have enough weapons to blow up the world, how many more do we need?
    Like (15)
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    Options are good. Believable deterrents are exceptional
    Like (14)
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    It would just make it easier to use nukes. That should be avoided at all costs
    Like (14)
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    This regime needs to stop developing anything they can misuse or the wh squatter can think is a play thing he can threaten the world with to feed his ego.
    Like (9)
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    We do not any more nuclear weapons.
    Like (7)
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    Making these bombs need to stop.
    Like (6)
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    The escalate to deescalate strategy is ridiculous. Once the conflict goes nuclear, there will not be a deescalation.
    Like (6)
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    We already have plenty of weapons. Let’s us our money for social programs.
    Like (6)
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    Most of our nuclear weapons such as our Minuteman systems are old, outdated and costly in maintenance. Modernizing our missile systems keeps us even or better than other nuclear countries. Right now our Trident missile systems are far better than our old Minuteman Systems. Funding our land based systems are financially and politically unsustainable. just remember you can call back a bomber or a submarine but you can not call back an ICBM.
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    We have enough to destroy the world three times over, we can use what we got or we could maybe try peace, but that would require people to talk to each other instead of bullying. My button bigger than yours. Maybe they shouldn't make any more until they use their stock pile? Haft life of radiation is about hundred years.
    Like (6)
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    Instead of making anymore deadly harmful $h!t Lets help people and the environment.
    Like (5)
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    We must maintain and modernize our nuclear stockpiles. It’s a matter of national security and survival. #MAGA
    Like (5)
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    Peace from strength. It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in war. Be prepared. The strong are always targets for those who want to make a point. America will always be a target because we are strong so we must maintain our defenses, which include our offenses.
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    As long as there is a nuclear threat, the USA should always have an arsenal.
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    It would make the justification and threshold for using nuclear weapons too low
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