New CIP report offers inside look at the lobby for ICBMs

New CIP report offers inside look at the lobby for ICBMs

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) Are called "some of their most dangerous weapons in the world" by former Defense Secretary William Perry, because under current policies the president would have just a matter of minutes to decide whether to establish them at a crisis, raising the risks of an accidental nuclear war. In spite of this fact, proposals for reducing this risk have routinely been blocked, in significant part due to a group of Senators from states that sponsor ICBM bases or ICBM upkeep and development activities, often referred to as the ICBM Coalition. The Coalition includes Senators from Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The polices promoted by the ICBM Coalition and its allies don't have wide public support. A recent survey conducted by ReThink Media and the Federation of American scientists found that 60% of Americans supported either forgoing the development of a new ICBM, eliminating ICBMs entirely, or eliminating nuclear weapons, an indication that a change in present ICBM policies could have important public support. In addition, almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) expressed a preference for delaying the new ICBM -- known formally as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) -- while still continuing to prolong the life of present land-based missiles while the GBSD program undergoes a comprehensive review.

The efforts of the ICBM Coalition have been commissioned by lobbying and campaign donations from ICBM contractors, led by Northrop Grumman, which has received a sole source, $13.3 billion contract to build a new ICBM, known formally as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or even GBSD. Present-day estimates indicate that building and operating the GBSD and relevant warheads will probably cost $264 billion over the life span of the app, which would provide a steady flow of revenue to Northrop Grumman and related companies for years to come. Northrop Grumman's lobbying efforts have been supplemented by a dozen major GBSD subcontractors, including heavy hitters like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Within the last ten years, major ICBM builders have made approximately $1.2 million in campaign donations to members of the ICBM Coalition, and over $15 million more members of important committees that play an essential part in deciding how much is spent on ICBMs: the Senate and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittees and the Senate and House Defense Appropriations Subcommittees.

ICBM contractors also have strong lobbying machines that can be brought to bear on behalf of important weapons projects. Northrop Grumman and its top subcontractors spent them. While not all of these lobbyists were used to operate on the ICBM issue, the Substantial lobbying resources of those ICBM contractors give them preferred access to crucial Members of Congress and help build relationships that can be leveraged for a variety of functions.