“The Commission’s report is thoughtful and thorough. It is refreshing that such unanimous bipartisan consensus can be reached on such a complex set of issues. I am hopeful that the Administration, working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, can build upon this bipartisan momentum as it works to define America’s nuclear policies and posture. I commend these twelve senior statesmen on their efforts,” said Rep. John M. McHugh (R-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee.
“The consensus reached in this report establishes a welcome framework for upcoming discussions regarding our strategic deterrence and weapons capabilities. Among other issues, the report calls for a renewed commitment for supporting our scientists and engineers who support our Strategic Weapons complex. As the Strategic Forces Subcommittee works with the Administration on budget and policy issues regarding our strategic assets, I hope we can continue a similar bi-partisan approach. The Commission’s report will help inform that process. In particular, the Administration and the Congress must understand the ramifications or unintended consequences of any decisions they make,” said Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-OH), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Committee.
McHugh and Turner underscored the following key points from their review of the Commission’s final report:
- Reaffirms the need to maintain U.S. nuclear deterrence despite calls for abolition. In a speech in Prague on April 5, President Obama called for a “world without nuclear weapons.” While a noble intent, the bipartisan Commission, however, unanimously reaffirmed the need for the United States to maintain its nuclear deterrent. The Executive Summary of the report states: “The conditions that might make possible the global elimination of nuclear weapons are not present today and their creation would require a fundamental transformation of the world political order.” According to the Commission, “As long as nuclear dangers remain, the U.S. must have a strong and credible deterrent.”
- Reaffirms the United States’ commitment to extended deterrence. The Commission’s report reaffirms that the United States nuclear deterrence is still required in order to assure our allies of the U.S. commitment to their security. Specifically, the report highlights that the nuclear umbrella provided to our allies supports global nonproliferation efforts. Without extended deterrence guarantees from the United States, our allies may feel enormous pressure to possess their own nuclear weapons. This perception of the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent is an important consideration in U.S. nuclear posture, force size, and specific capability decisions.
- Urges caution on U.S. reductions and arms control in an uncertain strategic environment. The Commission noted that Russia and China are engaged in broad strategic modernization programs, and in particular raised concern about the Russian-favored imbalance in non-strategic nuclear weapons. The reports states that U.S. stockpile reductions are possible, but should not be unilateral. Also, U.S. allies should be consulted and assured that such changes do not weaken U.S. extended deterrence guarantees.
- Supports modernization of our nuclear stockpile and infrastructure. According to the commissioners, the United States possesses an aging nuclear stockpile that “cannot be relied upon for the indefinite future.” The Commission supports a modernization approach to sustain the long-term reliability, safety, and security of our stockpile and does not believe it conflicts with our nonproliferation objectives. Additionally, the report stated that the U.S. nuclear weapons complex “is in serious need of transformation” but “lacks the needed funding.”
- Urges focus on immediate nuclear dangers and expansion of U.S. deterrence options. HASC Republicans applaud the President’s vision for a “world without nuclear weapons” but worry its allure may be a distraction from the near-term nuclear security and proliferation challenges facing our nation and the international community. The report supports the urgent need to address the threat posed by Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, and recognizes the motivations driving these actors to go nuclear are complex and not easily removed with changes to U.S. nuclear posture. The Commission puts forth a comprehensive strategy that advocates for a decrease in our dependence on nuclear forces but recognizes that the U.S. must also provide the President a broad set of capabilities and deterrence options to strengthen our security and that of our allies, including missile defenses, advanced conventional capabilities, unconventional capabilities, intelligence, and nonproliferation measures.