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Lastly, will the president, in the guise of budget cuts, make unilateral cuts to the nation’s nuclear forces? I have heard of rumored cuts to our fleet of nuclear-capable bombers (in tandem with a decision that future bombers will not be nuclear-certified at deployment), elimination of a wing of ICBMs, and reductions in the number of new ballistic missile submarines and their date of deployment. The president has already suggested that he will cut by a third the number of ballistic missiles carried by the new submarine.
The U.S. nuclear deterrent has been the greatest check on great power aggression and nuclear proliferation yet devised. More than 30 nations are protected by U.S. nuclear forces, instead of building their own nuclear weapons. Unilateral cuts by the U.S. could force allies to question our commitment to this “nuclear umbrella.” There is consequently a very high burden of proof for an administration seeking further cuts.
Former Secretary of State James Baker, a believer in global nuclear disarmament, recently observed that “any effort to reach that goal must require reciprocal and proportional cuts so that all countries reduce their arsenals in concert. If you want to have any chance to achieve the goal, this condition cannot fail.”
Obama was proud to have Baker’s advice during the new START ratification process. Will the president disregard such esteemed leaders while conducting these four reviews now that he has secured the treaty he wanted so badly?
The president should remember that the successful implementation of the treaty is entirely in Congress’ control thanks to its power over the federal checkbook.
Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) is chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.