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Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I want to agree with what the gentleman from New Jersey, the chairman of the subcommittee, has just said, and I rise in opposition to this amendment.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, we have debated similar concepts recently and we rejected them. This would be harmful to our national security. The reason, besides what the chairman from New Jersey has already said, these weapons are forward deployed in Europe to support NATO and are employed also by U.S. strategic forces in the continental United States.
If we do not extend the life of the B61, here is what the Department of Defense has said:
Failure to fully fund the B61 Life Extension Program will be viewed by NATO and other allies as a weakening in the overall U.S.-extended deterrence commitment, potentially prompting certain allies to pursue their own nuclear program.
Unless you want other countries in the world to start their own nuclear programs from scratch to develop their own weapons systems, increasing proliferation, then you want to reject this amendment, because that will potentially be the result if the U.S. deterrence is weakened. That's what this amendment does.
It is important that we do the Life Extension Program also because under New START, which this country entered into recently with Russia, it was determined that we would be upgrading the remaining weapons. We are making dramatic reductions in the amount of the nuclear weapons in our stockpile, so those that remain have to be more reliable or we made a bad deal.
To make sure that those remaining weapons are more reliable we do the Life Extension Programs. The B61 weapons we are talking about are 30 years or more old. They are degrading. They are using sometimes obsolescent parts, so they are not as secure as they could be. We need to do the Life Extension Program for that reason as well.
For all these reasons, I would ask that we strongly oppose and reject this amendment.
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