Santorum on Nuclear Weapons Modernization

Judy Elliott on August 03, 2015
Rick Santorum said we need to modernize our nuclear weapons and resume testing so that we can be assured they will work. He also acknowledged problems with an election system dominated by billionaires and suggested that deregulating energy production would be a way to reduce corporate cronyism.

During the taped portion of the "Conversation with the Candidate," Gail asked Rick Santorum for his views on money and politics.  "How do you feel about the Citizens United decision, and would you support an amendment to override it," she asked.  The former Senator's answer implied he would prefer a system in which donors make unlimited contributions directly to candidates, rather than directing their funds through Super PACs. 

Speaking of legislation like McCain-Feingold, he said, "I think it is well intentiond, these campaign finance regulations, but what they ultimately do is empower people to secretly, quietly influence the election.  And it is not folks like you and me, it is the billionaires in this counry."

"To be honest with you," he went on, it is not corporations that are doing it, it is individuals who are billionaires, millionaires and billionaires who are directly influencing these elections.  They may hvae made money because they sold the coporation."

Later in the show, Olivia asked Rick Santorum, "what steps would you take to prevent corporate cronyism from encroaching on our government and economy?"  Santorum responded that the best way to stop cronyism is with a "simple flat fair tax plan."  

"The big money comes out when the big money is at stake," he said, adding a pitch for deregulation of energy production. 

Following the taped portion of the show, Olivia followed up with Santorum about the influence of the for-profit nuclear weapons labs.

Using the example of Lockheed’s illegal lobbying to extend its contract to run Sandia National Labs, I added that the labs have used their influence to advocate for the $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program.

Senator Santorum asserted that we need to modernize nuclear weapons because, since we stopped nuclear testing, there is no assurance that they will work. Apparently he feels that this makes them ineffective as a deterrent. He said he was unhappy that the US stopped testing nuclear weapons. I countered that we don’t need to upgrade nuclear weapons to make sure they work. Rather, they can be maintained by replacing aging parts with similar parts, rather than upgrading the weapons.

“[US nuclear weapons] are reliable if they can just be maintained," I said, "but what the nuclear weapons labs and some of the weapons manufacturers are doing, which is very profitable for them, is to use the maintenance of those weapons as a guise to design and build new nuclear weapons. Same with the submarines, the bombers, and the missiles. It is a trillion dollar program, it’s going to cost the tax payers a lot of money, and we don’t need it.”

At that point host Josh McElveen intervened and said that Senator Santorum had to leave. Too bad, it’s very difficult to actually engage candidates on this issue.

The issue is important. Life Extension Programs (LEPs) originally intended to replace aging parts on nuclear weapons are now being used to upgrade those weapons, in effect creating new nuclear weapons. This violates commitments in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.

If you’d like an in-depth look at these issues, see “Transforming the US Strategic Posture & Weapons Complex for a Transition to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World,” especially Chapter 5. Primary author was Dr. Robert Civiak of Lebanon, NH.

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