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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I just to want follow up on the remarks of my colleagues Senator Kyl and Senator Ayotte.

Last year, I asked for and obtained language in the Defense bill that would
require the Defense Department to report on the effectiveness and need and ramifications of a hedging strategy for the United States, and that was due within 75 days of the bill being passed. My understanding is the Defense Department produced that analysis and they sent it to the White House as early as last spring and it has not been produced.

So now we have the House having passed language that actually funds moving forward with a hedging strategy on an American-based system to give us a layered defense, which I think is probably necessary but because we have not gotten a report from the Defense Department it is hard to know. I would first say it is not acceptable that we have not received that report. It has gone on too long. I guess I and Congress have been too reticent in insisting that it be produced.

I would say to the Defense Department and the administration, we expect that report to be produced. I don't want to cause trouble in your world, but it has been made, it has been sent forward, and it is time to have it come to the people's representatives who have to make decisions about how we are going to defend America. I will be using the various rights I have as a Senator to move that forward.

I wish to quote from a story in today's Washington Times, referring to a statement made by Mr. Fereidoun Abbasi, who is Iran's nuclear chief. The article states: "Iran will step up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel.''

There are some people still saying we don't know if Iran wants to go forward with a nuclear weapon. How could this possibly be? They have been subjected to the most rigorous sanctions that are damaging their economy. Yet in today's paper their nuclear chief says they are accelerating their plans to go forward. There is no doubt about what they are doing. I wish it weren't so. I truly wish it weren't so. I had hoped they would change their mind. Maybe they will change their mind, but it is false to say they haven't made up their mind and they are not going forward to build a nuclear weapon. That is so plainly obvious I don't know how anybody could ever suggest otherwise. The only question is, Can we somehow bring to bear enough pressure on them to get them to change their mind? There is a long article about that in today's paper.

I was pleased Chairman Levin and both Democratic and Republican members of the Armed Services Committee produced a unanimous bill. Senator McCain, Senator Levin, both fine, wonderful leaders of our committee, and every member all signed off on the legislation. I think that speaks well for our committee. They also approved this language dealing with the failure of the Department to produce the hedging report--and it has a number of fact-finding points in it which I will share with my colleagues:

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has testified to Congress that ..... ``Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, and it is expanding the scale, reach, and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload.''

That is President Obama's National Intelligence Director, and he is the man to make the final opinion on that for the President. Let me quote additional language from the committee:

The 2012 Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of Iran by the Department of Defense states that, in addition to increasing its missile inventories, ``Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of its existing missile systems with accuracy improvements and new submissions payloads.''

Also in the report:

North Korea warned the United States in October 2012 that the United States mainland is within reach of its missiles.

I will wrap up, since I can't talk much longer anyway. We have to recognize the grim fact there are very dangerous countries with nuclear weapons--North Korea--or are rapidly developing them--Iran--capable of putting them on missiles and that have missile systems already. So North Korea has a missile system they believe can reach the United States right now. We need to be sure our defense system is sufficient. I wish it weren't so, but that is the way it is. I think the Defense Department understands this.

I think the administration says it does, and we are doing some good things to be prepared for that. However, we have to confront this question of an east coast site, and we need this report. I believe we are going to need additional layered defenses, and we might as well prepare to do it. In the scheme of the entire investment in our national defense, it won't be the kind of expenditure that will break the defense budget. It is something we can work into our defense budgets.

I thank Senators Ayotte and Kyl for their comments.

I yield the floor.


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