U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, made the following statement at the opening of the subcommittee's hearing on proliferation prevention:
"Thank you, Madam Chair. I join you in thanking our witnesses for being here today.
"While I look forward to their testimony on these essential proliferation prevention programs, I am concerned by the prevalent argument that the United States can persuade the rest of the world to halt nuclear proliferation by reducing its own arsenal.
"I know the Strategic Forces Subcommittee oversees our nuclear enterprise, but its critical contribution here is worth highlighting.
"In fact, a robust U.S. nuclear deterrent, often referred to as the "nuclear umbrella," provides a strong disincentive for other nations, including our partners and allies, to develop weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, there is little evidence that U.S. nuclear reductions (from a high of 30,000 nuclear weapons in 1967 to just 5,000 today) have reduced nuclear proliferation -- North Korea and Iran stand as recent evidence to the contrary.
"While some in the United States and in the West view nuclear weapons as outdated Cold War relics, other nations are increasing their reliance on nuclear weapons -- much as the United States did after the Second World War. The U.S. will not change this reality by reducing its arsenal. Overlooking this fact and dogmatically pursuing the reduction of U.S. nuclear forces, instead of addressing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue states, will lead to a lack of confidence in U.S. nuclear security guarantees. As a result, adversaries won't be deterred and nations that have not pursued nuclear capabilities (such as South Korea, Japan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia), may reconsider.
"Transparency and strategic stability must be our goals with respect to Russia and China; dealing with North Korea, Iran, and potential nuclear terrorists requires a different set of policies and different programmatic tools -- some of which we intend to discuss today.
"The important proliferation prevention agencies represented here today, underpinned by a strong U.S. nuclear deterrent, are critical to our national security.
"I thank the chair and look forward to hearing from our witnesses."