Despite Veto Threat, Turner’s New START Provisions Remain in House Passed NDAA
Legislation Would Ensure White House Honors Promise of a Sustainable Nuclear Deterrent; Require Congress to be Involved in Arms Control Reductions below New START Levels
May 31, 2011 -
Today, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included major parts of Congressman Mike Turner’s “New START Treaty Implementation Act.” As the NDAA heads to the Senate, Turner’s provisions will codify the White House’s own promised “To-Do List” from last year’s New START Treaty debate. Yesterday, Sen. Jon Kyl introduced his nearly identical legislation (S. 1097) in the Senate. This follows the White House’s announcement that the President’s senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill if the New START Implementation Act provisions were included.
“It was surprising to learn that the President had issued a veto threat even though the provisions of this bill are consistent with his own Administration’s stated policies. Will he not modernize our nuclear forces as he had stated? Will he unilaterally withdraw nuclear forces from Europe? If the answers to these questions are no, then he should have no issue with this legislation,” said Turner, who is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.
“During last year’s New START debate, a bipartisan consensus formed around the need for modernizing our nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and infrastructure. The President has promised a robust ten-year modernization program, but the project to create a sustainable deterrent will transcend several administrations. We need to act now and codify the promised ‘To-Do-List’ for modernizing our nuclear forces,” added Turner.
“I look forward to working with Sen. Jon Kyl and the Senate as this legislation makes its way to the President. I am grateful for the support of House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, and other members of the committee and House who spoke in support of these provisions. These are leaders who understand what our strategic capabilities mean to the defense of this nation and our allies,” noted Turner.
Highlights of Turner’s New START Treaty Implementation Act included in the House passed NDAA:
- Modernizing our nuclear weapons and related infrastructure, as the President has pledged to do in a November 2010 report on nuclear modernization plans, and other statements.
- Limits funds for reductions of deployed weapons required by New START Treaty pending a joint certification by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy that the modernization plan is indeed proceeding.
- In the event modernization is not proceeding, it requires a six month freeze on funds. Treaty implementation is thus linked to progress in nuclear weapons modernization, but the provision is carefully crafted to avoid treaty default.
- Prohibits further unilateral reductions of deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons below New START Treaty levels:
- Prohibits the executive branch from making unilateral reductions to the non-deployed hedge stockpile until the full functionality (in the 2024 time frame) of the new plutonium and uranium facilities (CMRR-NF, UPF)—dates and criteria previously laid out in the administration’s own May 2010 report on the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan and in more recent testimony.
- Amends the U.S. Code to prevent the executive branch from unilaterally reducing U.S. deployed or non-deployed nuclear weapons, except as otherwise and specifically provided by law—by a future treaty or Act of Congress.
- Expresses concern about the administration’s stated plans to modify U.S. deterrence requirements and nuclear strategy merely for the purpose of justifying further arms control reductions.
- Requires the President to notify Congress before implementing any changes to nuclear strategy, to certify that the U.S. will not adopt a counter-value targeting strategy and that the triad will be preserved (consistent with section 1058 of the House-passed FY11 NDAA), and to wait 90 days after the congressional notification.
- Preserving U.S. freedom of action with respect to missile defense by amending the U.S. Code to prohibit any international agreements limiting U.S. missile defense capabilities except with specific authorization—by a new treaty or Act of Congress.
- Sustaining our extended deterrent for NATO by counseling against unilateral reduction, consolidation, withdrawal of our non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, without either host nation request or NATO High Level Group request and certain other conditions.
- Codification of the “1251 Report” from the FY2010 NDAA on modernization of the nuclear stockpile, delivery systems, infrastructure.