America endorses new nuclear warhead program regardless of cost increase


(MENAFN) The United States Department of Defense has decided to move forward with its Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, despite encountering an 81percent increase in costs. Originally projected at USD77.7 billion, the program's budget has now swelled to USD140.9 billion, triggering what is known as a Nunn-McCurdy breach—a situation where the cost increase of a new program exceeds 25percent, necessitating a review to justify its continuation.

The Sentinel ICBM initiative aims to replace the aging Minuteman III nuclear missiles, a critical component of the United States 'nuclear triad'. The Pentagon defended its decision, emphasizing that there are no feasible alternatives to the Sentinel program following the mandated review process.

William LaPlante, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, acknowledged the substantial cost implications but underscored the imperative of modernizing the nation's nuclear arsenal amidst evolving global threats. He highlighted the risks associated with not upgrading the United States nuclear forces, asserting the program's necessity in addressing current and emerging security challenges.

The cost escalation primarily stems from not only the development and production of the new missile but also the comprehensive modernization of ground-based facilities. This includes upgrading launch control centers, nuclear missile bases, and testing facilities, essential components for maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent.

Despite receiving approval, the Sentinel ICBM program has faced significant criticism, particularly from within the scientific community. Over 700 United States scientists representing various institutions nationwide have voiced concerns, urging President Joe Biden and Congress to reconsider what they describe as an "expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary" nuclear warhead program.

The debate over the Sentinel underscores broader policy discussions about the role of nuclear weapons in US defense strategy, balancing national security needs with fiscal responsibility and ethical considerations. As the program progresses, its implications for international security dynamics and domestic budget priorities will continue to be scrutinized and debated.

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