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Missile State Senators: Nuclear Deterrent Critical to Nation's Defense


Location: Washington, DC

In response to President Obama's announcement to further reduce America's nuclear arsenal below the levels set by the New START Treaty, members of the bipartisan Senate Missile States Coalition reaffirmed their support for keeping America's nuclear deterrent strong and capable, and maintaining current ICBM levels. The senators expressed concerns that the reductions would create unnecessary strategic risks and is a shortsighted policy that was decided without input from Congress. The president's plan ignores the nuclear dangers of a nuclear North Korea and Iran and calls for cutting America's nuclear triad by one third beyond the requirements under the New START Treaty. Any new large-scale nuclear reduction agreement would require congressional consent.

"The president wants to appease Russia with this agreement, but there are other countries besides Russia we need to consider when it comes to our nuclear deterrent. We need to address directly address the true dangers of a nuclear North Korea and Iran and not arbitrarily cut our capabilities when those who wish to do us harm are arming themselves. Our ICBM force is an essential part of our national defense and I thank the men and women in Wyoming and across the country for their service. It's their sacrifices that ensure that our ICBM force is maintained and always ready," said Senator Mike Enzi.

"Maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent keeps America safe and supports good-paying American jobs. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what the President is proposing and we need answers. I won't support anything that puts our national security in jeopardy," said Senator Max Baucus.

"America's nuclear deterrent helps keep Americans safe and our country free. The only thing that has changed since the New START Treaty is that the threat of hostile nuclear programs has become even greater. As countries that are not our friends grow closer to modernizing their nuclear weapons programs, it would be irresponsible for us to weaken our own program. Instead of focusing on reducing America's nuclear deterrent, the President should focus on stopping countries like Iran and North Korea form expanding their nuclear programs. The President's plan to cut our nuclear weapons stockpile by one-third will require substantial cuts to the ICBM force across the country, and specifically in Wyoming. If he's serious about protecting Americans and our allies, the President should immediately drop any plans to further reduce our ICBM's," said Senator John Barrasso.

"It would be misguided to further alter our nuclear stockpile before the New START Treaty is fully implemented. Nuclear weapons are the centerpiece of our defense strategy, and I will not support any short-sighted effort that threatens our national security," said Senator Jon Tester.

"Why would we want to cut our stockpile of nuclear weapons at a time of such great uncertainty around the world? Important decisions such as this should only be made after consultation with the Senate. Russia is currently in active noncompliance with existing nuclear arms obligations and that needs to be corrected before any future reductions are considered," said Senator Orrin Hatch.

"The Cold War may be over but we still face dangerous threats as rogue nations like Iran and North Korea work to develop nuclear arsenals. Simply put, now is not the time to draw down our defenses or weaken any part of our nuclear triad," said Senator Mike Johanns.

"We have yet to reduce our nuclear forces to the level required by the New START Treaty, which was ratified in 2010. With Russia, China and North Korea expanding their nuclear arsenals, and Iran working furiously to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon, it makes no sense to cut our levels by another third beyond the treaty. The President's plan would make the world more dangerous, not less dangerous, and in fact, encourages the nuclear ambitions of our adversaries," said Senator John Hoeven.

"A brief survey of the global stage makes clear the announcement to reduce one-third of our nuclear deterrent couldn't come at a worse time. Russia and China are continuing to modernize their nuclear forces while dangerous proliferation threats remain from North Korea and Iran. The United States is already reducing its nuclear deterrent to comply with the New START Treaty obligations. Further disarmament is premature. A robust nuclear deterrent has kept us safe since World War II and remains a cornerstone of U.S. National security policy. Numerous witnesses, including the current Secretary of Defense and Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, have testified before Congress about the need to maintain and modernize our current force levels -- not reduce them dramatically," said Senator Deb Fischer.

"I am disappointed by the lack of transparency in this process from the President to Congress and the American people. The Senate was only notified of this major strategic decision the evening before it was announced to the world, despite numerous questions from senators about nuclear modernization, the implementation of New START, and the status of U.S-Russia talks that have remained unanswered for months. Only three years ago, we were told that the force level required under New START was precisely what we needed for our nuclear deterrent. It is unclear what has changed since then, but the world is certainly not a safer place," said Senator Mike Lee.

"Our nation's nuclear force remains a critical part of our arsenal to deter enemies from taking action against the United States. There continues to be threats throughout the world which require our nation to maintain its nuclear readiness and capability. In North Dakota, Minot Air Force Base stands at the ready with the strongest possible deterrent to those that wish the United States harm. It is imperative that we continue to modernize and defend our nuclear triad from reductions that may threaten our nuclear deterrent capabilities," said Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

America's ICBM force dramatically decreases the risk of nuclear war by providing a stabilizing and visible constant in our nuclear posture. A lower number of nuclear forces could encourage other nuclear powers to become nuclear peers with the U.S. and Russia. It could also inspire more non-nuclear countries to acquire their own nuclear deterrents in response.

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