Nuke mod­ern­iza­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

All 40 Repub­li­can se­na­tors and one in­de­pen­dent wrote to Pres­i­dent Obama on Dec. 16 re­mind­ing him that the cur­rent de­fense autho­riza­tion law links mod­ern­iza­tion of the ag­ing U.S. nu­clear arse­nal to fur­ther U.S.-Rus­sian arms re­duc­tions.

The law ap­plies to the not-yetfin­ished suc­ces­sor to the 1991 Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (START), which ex­pired on Dec. 16.

The 41 se­na­tors — enough to block for­mal rat­i­fi­ca­tion of a new treaty, which re­quires 67 votes — stated in the let­ter that they agree with the de­fense leg­is­la­tion’s lan­guage that says mod­ern­iz­ing the ag­ing U.S. nu­clear stock­pile is crit­i­cal to fur­ther U.S.-Rus­sian arms cuts.

“In fact, we don’t be­lieve fur­ther re­duc­tions can be in the na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est of the U.S. in the ab­sence of a sig­nif­i­cant pro­gram to mod­ern­ize our nu­clear de­ter­rent,” the se­na­tors stated.

A Repub­li­can Se­nate aide said the let­ter is in­tended to put the White House on no­tice that for­mal rat­i­fi­ca­tion of a new START ac­cord must in­clude spe­cific plans and fund­ing for up­grad­ing U.S. nu­clear weapons out­lined in Sec­tion 1251 of the Demo­crat-drafted 2010 Na­tional De­fense Autho­riza­tion Act, which was signed into law by Mr. Obama on Oct. 28.

A White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman had no im­me­di­ate com­ment on the let­ter.

The se­na­tors stated that a bi­par­ti­san com­mis­sion headed by for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary William J. Perry and for­mer En­ergy Sec­re­tary James R. Sch­lesinger first drew the link­age be­tween pro­posed new arms cuts un­der START and mod­ern­iz­ing U.S. nu­clear weapons.

The com­mis­sion mem­bers “were unan­i­mously alarmed by the se­ri­ous dis­re­pair and ne­glect they found [in the nu­clear arse­nal], and they made a se­ries of rec­om­men­da­tions to re­verse this highly con­cern­ing sit­u­a­tion,” the let­ter says.

Specif­i­cally, the se­na­tors called for full and timely life-ex­ten­sion up­grades to the B61 and W76 war­heads; fund­ing for “a mod­ern war­head” with new fea­tures for life ex­ten­sion; full fund­ing for nu­clear stock­pile sur­veil­lance; and full fund­ing for timely re­place­ments of the Los Alamos plu­to­nium plant, the Oak Ridge ura­nium plant and a mod­ern nu­clear-pit fa­cil­ity.

The se­na­tors made clear to the pres­i­dent their view that the nu­clear-mod­ern­iza­tion plan should be fully funded beginning with the fis­cal 2011 bud­get and that the new treaty should be sent to the Se­nate for rat­i­fi­ca­tion with the plan.

The se­na­tors also stated that the pres­i­dent should fol­low the de­fense autho­riza­tion pro­vi­sion that the new treaty “must not limit U.S. mis­sile de­fenses, space ca­pa­bil­i­ties, or ad­vanced con­ven­tional mod­ern­iza­tion, such as non-nu­clear global strike ca­pa­bil­ity.”

Rus­sia’s gov­ern­ment has linked the new treaty’s arms cuts

to lim­its on U.S. mis­sile de­fenses.

This screen shot is from a Tal­iban pro­pa­ganda video posted re­cently on the In­ter­net de­pict­ing the at­tack on a U.S. mil­i­tar y out­post near Kamdesh. Eight U.S. sol­diers died in the at­tack.

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