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Public Statements

Hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services - Confirmation Hearing of the Nomination of the Honorable Charles T. Hagel

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator King.
Senator Shaheen.

Senator SHAHEEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Hagel, thank you very much for the tremendous service
that you've already provided to this country and for your willingness
to consider taking on this challenge as Secretary of Defense
and for your stamina at this hearing all day. You will certainly
need it as Secretary of Defense.
I want to follow up on Senator King's question about the Navy,
because the Navy is obviously very important to us in New Hampshire
as well. Our four public shipyards are the backbone of our
naval power, but according to the Navy there's a huge backlog of
the restoration and modernization projects at our shipyards. According
to last year's numbers, that backlog was around $3 billion.
At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which Senator King, Senator
Ayotte and I are all very concerned about, that number was $513
million. This backlog not only potentially affects our readiness, but
it's also not cost effective. For example, a 2010 GAO report pointed
out that a pier project at Norfolk, which I'm sure Senator Kane is
familiar with, if it had been addressed early it would have cost $15
million. Because that didn't happen, the pier now is going to cost
about $85 million.
So in fiscal year 2012 Senators Collins, Ayotte, and I included an
amendment in the NDAA bill that requires the Pentagon to
produce a shipyard modernization plan to address these shortfalls.
That report's late, but it was promised in the upcoming budget submission
for fiscal year 2014. Will you commit to ensuring that this
modernization plan is produced and will you commit to pressing
the Navy, within the fiscal constraints that I appreciate, but to
fully fund the investments that are needed to save money in the
long term and ensure that we continue to be very effective and efficient
at our shipyards?

Senator HAGEL. Yes, I will make that commitment to do everything
I can to first understand the specifics, which I don't know all
the details. But your request is preliminary to effective, efficient
use of our resources and planning and our national security. So I
will make that commitment. If I am confirmed, I will get the details.
I will assure that the Navy responds.

Senator SHAHEEN. Thank you. And I'm sure Senators King and
Ayotte join me in inviting you to come and visit the Portsmouth
Naval Shipyard. We hope that you will do that as soon as you're
confirmed.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you.

Senator SHAHEEN. I know there's been a fair amount of discussion
earlier today about your involvement with the organization
Global Zero and what your position is on nuclear weapons. I think
it's worth requoting what Senator Reed said about Ronald Reagan,
who said that: ""We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear
weapons from the face of the Earth.'' I think every President since
Ronald Reagan has supported that aspirational goal, recognizing
that at this point in time it is a goal.
Certainly that's what President Obama has said he supports, is
that some day, probably not in this lifetime, but some day, we
should hope for a world that would be free of nuclear weapons.
I know I've heard you say that you agree with those two statements,
but do you also agree that as long as nuclear weapons exist
that we have to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal
to deter any adversaries?

Senator HAGEL. Yes, completely, absolutely. I have never had
any other position but that, as I have indicated this morning and
this afternoon, and will continue to take that position. As I said in
my opening statement and in answer to other questions, our nuclear
deterrent has probably been the core of keeping world peace
and avoiding a World War III, that nuclear deterrent.
As long as there is the threat of nuclear weapons--and like you
noted and President Obama noted in his Prague speech in 2009--
it probably will not happen in our lifetime. But, just as you noted
and Senator Reed's comments about what President Reagan laid on
the table in 1986, we need to keep working on it. We need to keep
moving forward, attempting to do it.
Quite frankly, if you look at the START agreements and you look
at the different treaties we've had, we have brought those warheads
down, under both Republican and Democratic administrations,
bipartisan. What Sam Nunn said this morning, he and his
former colleagues Secretary Kissinger, Secretary Shultz, Secretary
Perry, hundreds of national leaders in Republican and Democratic
administrations over the years have supported the reduction of
weapons of nuclear destruction--not unilateral, but bilateral, negotiated
and verifiable.
As I said this morning, as Ronald Reagan said, ""Trust but
verify.'' Nothing unilateral.

Senator SHAHEEN. Thank you very much.
Again, I know there's been a lot of discussion about your comments
relative to sanctions on Iran and various options that we
might pursue with respect to Iran and nuclear weapons. But I wonder
again if you would confirm what your position is on the President's
current strategy of strong diplomacy, tough international
sanctions, and keeping all the options on the table?

Senator HAGEL. Well, you have just defined President Obama's
strategy on Iran, which I firmly support, strongly support. It is the
wise way to do it. I don't know if I mentioned this to you in our
meeting, but I wrote a book in 2008 and I have a chapter on Iran,
and I lay all that out in the chapter. As I've said, I don't think
President Obama went to my chapter and developed his strategy
based on my chapter, but there's nothing in that chapter that I
wrote in that book in 2008 or anything I've ever said that deviates
from where the President is.
The military option is always on the table, must be on the table,
always should be the last option, always the last option. But aren't
we wiser and smarter if we can figure this out, accomplish our objectives,
without having to go to war, for everybody?

Senator SHAHEEN. I hope so.
You referenced the meeting that we had last week and I very
much appreciated your taking time to come in and sit down and
talk about some of the statements that have been represented that
you have addressed today. One of those had to do with Israel's security.
Again, I know this has been discussed at length during the
day today, but I wonder if again you could reconfirm what your
commitment is on Israel and the security of Israel in the Middle
East?

Senator HAGEL. My support of Israel's security is and always has
been very clear. I strongly support Israel. The security of Israel is
a commitment that we made to Israel in 1948 when Israel was
born under American leadership, Harry Truman. That commitment
is a bond that is more than just an ally to ally. It is special, it's
historical, it's values-driven.
I've never equivocated from that line. My votes in the Senate
have shown that. What I've said publicly has shown that. I've said
this in my book. Absolutely, and we'll continue to do that.

Senator SHAHEEN. Thank you very much.

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you very much, Senator Shaheen.

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