Major GOP hawks warn Biden about nuclear cuts

Their public warning, which comes weeks before the administration’s review of the administration’s nuclear posture is due to end, underscores how politically difficult it will be for President Joe Biden to make major reforms to nuclear strategy. America or overturn the long-term plans that were for the most part codified in the Obama administration to modernize land-based nuclear missiles, submarines and bombers.

“Reports that the Biden administration is considering dropping long-awaited improvements essential to our country’s nuclear deterrence – as China massively expands nuclear arsenal, North Korea blatantly violates UN sanctions over its missile program, and Russia is on the verge of launching the largest invasion in Europe since World War II – are of deep concern and, if true, would only invite further aggression, ”said legislators.

Biden, who has said he believes the United States has more nuclear weapons than necessary, came under pressure from arms control groups and some leading Congressional Democrats to keep his promise when he became president to “take action to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”

Bipartite argument: But GOP lawmakers are making the case that existing plans to add the weapons also enjoy broad support among key military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as well as members of Congress on both sides, and among foreign allies who rely on the American nuclear umbrella for their own defense.

“Over the past year, our committees have heard from the country’s leading defense and nuclear experts, including within the current administration,” they said. “Their stern warnings about the threats we face were sobering – and their clear advice, from Secretary Austin all the way down, was to continue on the path of modernization.”

They added that “an overwhelming bipartisan majority has supported the continuation of all aspects” of nuclear modernization plans in the defense policy legislation signed by Biden last month.

Despite resistance from some Democrats to a complete overhaul of the nuclear arsenal, the Defense Policy Bill supports the administration’s request for funding for new weapon systems, such as strategic ground deterrence and warhead modernization programs.

The bill also included $ 15.5 million requested by Biden for the research and development of a nuclear cruise missile launched at sea, one of the main “additions” pursued by the Trump administration which, according to POLITICO , could be on the chopping block.

Other Trump-era additions were the ‘low-yield’ W76-2 warhead fitted to submarines in 2019 and the B83 gravity bomb which was revived by the 2018 review after being upgraded. retirement.

A “wiser” path: In addition to weapons, GOP defense leaders have also voiced concerns that Biden could still decide to change US policy on the role of nuclear weapons, including adopting a “no-use-first” or by declaring that nuclear weapons only serve to deter other nuclear weapons.

“When reports surfaced that the Biden administration was considering deviating from long-standing nuclear policies that deterred major wars and the use of nuclear weapons for over seventy years,” the lawmakers in their statement, “U.S. allies across the world have joined a bipartisan choir party in Congress to urge the administration to take a wiser and more measured course.”

“It is almost incomprehensible that even now,” they concluded, “despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, bipartisan opposition from Congress, allies and experts, and a security environment that seems to be getting worse by the day, the he Biden administration continues to seek opportunities to weaken the ultimate guarantee of the security of our nation and our allies.

The Pentagon and the White House declined to comment on the status of the nuclear review, which is expected to be completed next month.


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