The House Armed Services Committee recently heard testimony from senior Administration officials on the Executive Branch’s nuclear weapons policies, posture, and force structure. Congressman Mike Turner focused his questions on the New START Treaty with Russia and the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.
Earlier this week, Mike Turner, the top Republican on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, previewed his critique of the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review in USA Today. In an op-ed, Turner stated, “Last May, President Obama clearly stated, ‘I don't take options off the table when it comes to U.S. security, period.’ Unfortunately, his new Nuclear Posture Review does just that. It delivers a muddled message that weakens the strength of our deterrent.”
Turner continued, “According to the Obama administration's new policy, if a country is a nuclear proliferator, the United States will seek to deter the offender's actions with the threat of nuclear weapons. If it is not, the president promises never to use nuclear weapons—even if the United States is attacked with biological or chemical weapons. Confusingly, the president reserves the right to change his mind.”
In defining the vital and powerful role of America’s nuclear deterrence, Turner stated, “When it comes to defending the United States against a devastating attack, our message should be clear and simple: If our nation is attacked, we will use all means necessary to defend ourselves. Period. This is the essence of nuclear deterrence: The message should be that the cost of attacking the United States will be greater than the benefit.”
Rep. Turner also addressed the expectation within the Administration that other nations will follow the lead of the United States: “Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has reduced its nuclear arsenal by nearly 80%, but such cuts have not curbed Iran or North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Nor have they led to reductions in Pakistan, India, or China's nuclear arms.”
During the House Armed Services Committee hearing, Rep. Turner reasserted his concerns the Administration is taking deterrence options off the table. In addition, Turner emphasized that U.S. missile defense capabilities should not be conceded as a bargaining chip in current or future treaty negotiations.