This Monday, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released its 25-year plan for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. This document, the Fiscal Year 2017 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan, is the most comprehensive, long-term planning document related to nuclear weapons available from anywhere in the U.S. government. Or from any government, for that matter.
For many years, the NNSA has produced some version of the plan almost annually, providing details on the agency’s plans and timelines, the estimated cost of work to be done, and priorities for the stockpile. For the last two years, it has produced a companion document that details its efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.
We would like to sincerely complement the NNSA on these valuable products. While even more information would be appropriate—in particular there is no reason to keep the number of U.S. nuclear weapons classified—this is a worthy contribution to public debate.
We strongly encourage the Department of Defense to produce a similar document that describes future plans for U.S. nuclear delivery vehicles. Too much information from the Pentagon is too closely guarded—many “secrets” need not be secret.
Indeed, every nuclear-armed country around the globe should be as open as the NNSA is on these important matters. If the world is ever going to address the nuclear threat and achieve the goal of elimination that presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have endorsed, vastly increased transparency will be needed.
So, thanks NNSA. While, as you might expect, we will have some critiques of your FY17 plan soon, we do appreciate the effort it takes to produce this document and the transparency that it displays.