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Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - Nonproliferation and Disarmament: What's the Connection and What Does that Mean for U.S. Security and Obama Administration Policy?


Location: Washington, DC

The Strategic Forces Subcommittee met today for a hearing on Nonproliferation and Disarmament: What's the Connection and What Does that Mean for U.S. Security and Obama Administration Policy? Chairman Michael Turner made the following statement available as prepared for delivery:

I'm pleased to welcome you all today for our hearing on "Nonproliferation and Disarmament: What's the connection and what does that mean for U.S. security and Obama Administration policy?"

Before I start with the subject of today's hearing, I think it's important to state a rising concern of mine regarding information we were provided last week on the B61 LEP.

For the third time in two years, NATO reaffirmed recently that it wants U.S. forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons to remain in Europe.

Yet, we are faced with the risk, of our own doing, that we may fail to honor that commitment. Why? Because the latest NNSA estimate is that this LEP, originally projected to cost $4 billion is now going to cost at least $8 billion, and, while it has already been delayed once by NNSA, from FY17 to FY19, there is a risk of further delay.

These schedule delays and cost increases have occurred despite the fact that STRATCOM has trimmed the military requirements to the bare minimum and increased the risk it is willing to tolerate to about as far as it can.
This is the latest evidence that NNSA is simply incapable of performing its basic mission, which is to provide the nuclear capabilities required by President Obama's 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and his November 2011 nuclear modernization funding promises.

It is past time for the President to step up and offer some solutions to fix the NNSA. This is the point that Chairman McKeon and I made in a letter to the Administrator earlier today: NNSA cannot continue to put the modernization of the U.S. deterrent at-risk.

Now, to the subject of today's hearing.

A central tenet of the Obama Administration's security policy is that, if the U.S. "leads by example" we can "reassert our moral leadership" and influence other nations to do things relevant to our nonproliferation goals.

It is the way the President intends to advance his goal of working toward a world free of nuclear weapons and to deal with the stated twin top priorities of the Administration: nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

For example, in his December 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, the President stated:

In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy.

Obviously, if the theory that informs this "centerpiece" is wrong, we could be risking a lot.
It is important to note that we could be jeopardizing our own security and the nuclear umbrella that assures 31 other countries of their security by reason that, as our capacity is reduced, the propensity of other countries to build their own deterrent is increased -- exactly the opposite of what we intend.

By agreeing to arms control agreements like New START or other agreements or unilateral actions like the U.S. statement on missile defense accompanying the START treaty, we are placing ourselves in a situation where we could be sacrificing our freedom to deploy the full range of missile defenses we need.

Were we to ratify the CTBT, we would forever legally give up our right to test weapons while not extending the same limitation to other states. That's a very serious limitation.

Significant consequences could come from doing what the President suggests, and the question of whether the risks are justified looms heavily before us today.

Put another way: Is it true that if we lead by example, others will follow that lead, and nuclear weapons will cease to exist? And, does our nonproliferation credibility in the world depend on taking these actions suggested by the President?

One of the first places President Obama chose to "lead" was in his new Nuclear Posture Review, which set the top five priorities for the United States involving nuclear security:

1. Preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism;
2. Reducing the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy;
3. Maintaining strategic deterrence and stability at reduced nuclear force levels;
4. Strengthening regional deterrence and reassuring U.S. allies and partners; and
5. Sustaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal.

About this prioritization, the late Therese Delpech said it best:

"The [Obama] 2010 NPR gives top priority to nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Then the goal of 'reducing the role of US nuclear weapons in US nuclear strategy' is asserted. Maintaining strategic deterrence is third on the list. This order is weird."

I have to agree. It is weird indeed that strategic stability with Russia and China and others comes third among the President's priorities.

Here's what we've done in disarmament already:

* the U.S. has reduced its nuclear weapons stockpile by 75 percent since the end of the Cold War and 90 percent since the height of the Cold War (this doesn't even include the NEW START figures).

* The U.S. has not conducted a nuclear weapons test since 1992.

* It has not designed a new warhead since the 1980s nor has it built one since the 1990s.

* We have pulled back almost all of our tactical nuclear weapons, and in the new NPR, we will retire our sea launched cruise missile.

* The Administration negotiated a New START treaty, and forced it through a lame duck Senate, where only the United States had to reduce deployed nuclear weapons.

What has this "leadership" gotten us? Have Iran and North Korea been impressed enough to come into compliance with the NPT? Have they followed our lead?

Has it kept Russia, China, France, Great Britain, India, and Pakistan from modernizing (and in some cases growing) their nuclear weapons stockpiles?

Russia is, in fact, deploying a new multipurpose attack submarine that can launch long range cruise missiles with nuclear warheads against land targets at a range of 5,000 kilometers. What is even more incredible is that this new system was not "counted" by the New START treaty.

If you turn to the screen [see slide 1], you'll see that in fact, while President Obama has been reducing, Russia has been pouring money into its nuclear forces. This slide was provided by the Russian nuclear weapons laboratories to a recent delegation of U.S. officials. I would suggest that it shows that Russia is, in fact, preparing to break out from the INF treaty, and may be in violation of the CTBT and the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives.

In addition, Russia's President has said that "possessing nuclear weapons is crucial to pursuing independent policies and to safeguarding sovereignty."

Russia is modernizing virtually every nuclear weapons capability it has. Russia clearly is not interested in following President Obama's lead.

Will Pakistan or North Korea ratify the CTBT just because the U.S. does? It is very unlikely that they would do so. In fact, both nations continued their nuclear weapons tests after the U.S. unilaterally stopped testing and even after the U.S. signed the CTBT.

Have these steps motivated our allies to be more helpful in dealing with real threats like Iran and North Korea and with nuclear terrorism?

Bottom line: there is no evidence our moral leadership in arms control and disarmament will convince countries to set aside their calculations of the impact of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism on their national security, and help us address these threats.

Notwithstanding this reality, the President isn't done yet.

The Obama administration reportedly is weighing at least three options for reducing U.S. nuclear forces: cutting to roughly 1,000-1,100; 700-800 or 300-400.

The president may soon seek to have the U.S. make the deepest reductions to its nuclear forces in history.

Let me be clear, putting aside what I believe is a disproven theory on U.S. nuclear reductions at the heart of the President's theory, the idea of further reductions should be off the table, and for a simple reason: the President has broken his promise to modernize the deterrent, which is the only reason, and a fundamental part of the contract the president agreed to, when the New START treaty was ratified.

Case in point is the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility, the construction of which the President pledged a little more than a year ago to accelerate and which in this year's budget he deferred for five years, which may as well be a cancellation, which I understand the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Office of Management and Budget originally advocated.

The President may consider this leadership, but I consider it to be breaking his word.

I am pleased to welcome today the following experts:

* The Honorable Stephen Rademaker
Former Assistant Secretary of State

* Dr. Kori Schake
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Stanford University

* Amb. Thomas Graham
Former Special Representative to the President on Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament (Clinton Administration)

These witnesses are leading thinkers on issues of nonproliferation and disarmament.

I look forward to their views on the following questions:

* What are the United States' commitments under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty?
* Have past U.S. disarmament activity and any "dividends" for U.S. nonproliferation objectives, including preventing proliferation to and by states like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan?
* What are the specific accomplishments, if any, in the past and by the current administration as a result of U.S. disarmament activity, including the New START treaty with Russia?
* What would be the likely accomplishments from future actions by the United States, including potential ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or further U.S. nuclear force reductions, including pursuant to the Administration's pending Nuclear Posture Review implementation study?

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