As Washington wrangles over the size of the federal budget in a time of fiscal austerity, Congress is debating whether to hold President Obama to his promise of adequately funding the modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal and infrastructure in exchange for the Senate’s passage of the controversial New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russia in December 2010. The debate has pit liberal lawmakers like Congressman Edward Markey (D, Mass.), who advocate global nuclear disarmament, against Congressman Michael Turner (R, Ohio) and other national security stalwarts, who support more investment in the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
Last month, Markey asserted in a floor speech that it would be “insane” to upgrade and replace uranium and plutonium facilities that support the U.S. nuclear arsenal, claiming that “the plants we have now work just fine.” In response, Turner—who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces—sent a letter to Markey on February 15, 2012, inviting the Massachusetts lawmakers to join him on a tour of “the deteriorating circumstances of the facilities.” (Aides to Turner say that Markey still hasn’t responded to the invitation.)
The letter included these vivid photos of what appear to be decrepit and decaying conditions at facilities critical to maintaining America’s nuclear weapons: