Sens. Corker, Inhofe: Obama Failed to Maintain US Nuclear Security

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 11:32 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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While President Obama has correctly identified nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism as “key dangers” to the U.S. and its allies, he has at the same time failed to modernize “essential” weapons needed to maintain the security of the United States, according two key Republican Senators.

“The president's approach is mistaken,” penned Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma in an editorial appearing in The Wall Street Journal. “Nothing demonstrates the hollowness of the disarmament dream as clearly as the international community's inability to keep regimes such as North Korea — and soon Iran — from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

The senators point to the recent North Korean nuclear test as evidence that “rogue states” have “little regard” for a nuclear-armed U.S.

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“Why would they be more intimidated, much less moved to disarm themselves, by an America that was whittling away its own nuclear superiority?” according to Corker, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Inhoffe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Moreover, the lawmakers say that reducing the American arsenal may likely cause “the very instability that the U.S. seeks to avoid.”

The lawmakers add that without an American commitment to a “strong nuclear deterrent,  the country's friends and allies could develop doubts about where the U.S. stands and what it would do to safeguard its own interests and theirs.”

This not only threatens the security of the U.S. but also a number of other nations that depend on U.S. nuclear-security assurances, they note.

“If these friends doubt U.S. capability and resolve, they may feel the need to develop their own nuclear weapons,” according to the senators. “Moreover, some potential adversaries, as America rushes to disarm, may be encouraged to acquire or expand nuclear arsenals, seeking to become nuclear "peers."

The senators note that funding for the nuclear weapons complex is $770 million short of what was promised with additional cutbacks expected in the fiscal-year 2014 budget request.

“A vital plutonium-handling facility—deemed essential even by the president until last year and to be built at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico — has been deferred by at least five years, which probably means never,” the senators state, adding that virtually all nuclear-modernization programs have been delayed by at least two years.

“The president has a choice: running into a likely stalemate on nuclear disarmament or working with Congress on practical and realistic steps to stop nuclear proliferation and improve nuclear security,” the senators assert.

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