We Like Our Nuclear Weapons the Way They Are, Thanks

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

Should the United States listen to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others who call for new nuclear weapons to replace our aging stockpile? Physicists Francis Slakey and Benn Tannenbaum, respectively of the American Physical Society and AAAS, which publishes ScienceInsider, say no.

The only solution, they say, is to design and build new warheads. These new weapons would be produced using state-of-the-art industrial methods that would vastly simplify manufacturing and maintenance and also drive down costs...

Geopolitics is an inexact science, to put it mildly. But physics is not, and as physicists who’ve been involved in science and national security policy for many years, we believe that science and technology can, in this case at least, tell us all we need to know to decide this issue. Based on the available data, we are confident that the current program of stockpile stewardship, with some modifications, can preserve the U.S. arsenal for the foreseeable future and that it isn’t necessary—and may even be counterproductive—to pursue new warheads.

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