Quigley Calls for Nuclear Weapon Cost Sharing Among NATO Allies
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) offered language that was successfully included in the FY2015 Defense Appropriations bill calling on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to provide proportional funding for forward deployed nuclear weapons in Europe. The U.S. currently shoulders the vast majority of annual operating costs, spending approximately $100 million to maintain these weapons each year according to the Pentagon, and costs are scheduled to rise as the weapons are modernized and new delivery systems and aircraft are developed.
“American taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to pay the entire bill for a nuclear weapon arsenal in Europe designed to fight a Cold War that no longer exists,” said Rep. Quigley. “As we reassess our 21st century fiscal and strategic needs and the cost of maintaining our European arsenal rises, it is not unreasonable to expect our NATO allies to share a proportional amount of the burden.”
The language offered by Rep. Quigley directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees outlining the status and impact of proportional contributions of NATO members to the cost of sustaining forward-deployed nuclear weapons in Europe. It is the first step towards more equitable cost-sharing among NATO allies for the continuation of our forward-deployed nuclear mission. The language will also allow Congress to better assess the affordability and rationale for the B61 LEP and a nuclear capability for the F-35.
The five European states that still host nuclear weapons already fund facility and security costs at the Munitions Support Squadron locations where the weapons are held. However, they do not contribute to the vast majority of the costs, which are included in the development and production of the weapons themselves. This includes the upcoming B-61 life extension program (LEP), which is scheduled to cost more than $10 billion. Further, they do not contribute to the development of delivery systems, such as a nuclear capable F-35 aircraft, which multiple NATO allies are scheduled to purchase.
At the same time, U.S. military leaders have stated that the B-61s deployed in Europe serve no military utility. When asked in 2010 if there is a military mission performed by U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe that cannot be performed by either US strategic or conventional forces, Gen. James Cartwright, then-vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flatly said: "No." With regards to the F-35, former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz stated last year: “It is my conviction that without financial buy-in by the NATO partners…F-35 investment dollars should realign to the long range strike bomber.”
Rep. Quigley is an outspoken advocate for nuclear arms reduction, working in the House Appropriations Committee to overhaul unlimited defense spending. Last year, he urged a one-third reduction in America’s ICBMs stockpile, and worked to cut $23.7 million in wasteful funding for the B61 nuclear bomb program. He is the author of Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget, a report which offers 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years.