Bill Could Set Rules for U.S. Compliance With New START Accord

A key U.S. lawmaker on Wednesday said he planned to submit a revised legislative proposal to address how the Obama administration can comply with a strategic arms control deal with Russia (see GSN, Feb. 8).

House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) could submit an altered version of the New START Implementation Act once the administration issues its fiscal 2013 budget request next week, the lawmaker indicated in a press release. Turner introduced the original bill last year.

New START, which entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011, requires each government by 2018 to reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by this year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded strategic warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 systems permitted in reserve. The treaty calls for the nations to regularly share quantities, siting and schematics of armament equipment and sites.

The administration in 2010 negotiated a decade-long, $85 billion nuclear weapons complex spending plan amid efforts to secure the treaty's Senate ratification, Turner noted in provided remarks.

“President Obama made a lot of promises to convince the Senate that it was safe to ratify the New START treaty.  Without specific and detailed promises to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, delivery vehicles and infrastructure, there is no doubt that the New START treaty would not have been approved," he said.

“However, it is now clear based on actions within the administration and announcements to the Congress, like the intention to delay the development of the next-generation ballistic missile submarine and the delay in the first production unit of the B-61-12 bomb, that the president isn’t keeping his word," the lawmaker stated (see GSN, Jan. 27).

He said Obama's forthcoming budget proposal would mark "a significant reversal" from his prior pledge to seek no less than $7.9 billion in fiscal 2013 funds for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the semiautonomous Energy Department entity that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

"He may also walk away from his direct pledge to build the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility at [the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico]; this facility is key to the United States continuing its nuclear weapons enterprise," Turner added (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2011).

“The ratification of the New START treaty was a package deal, and President Obama is now changing the terms of the Senate’s ratification of the treaty," he said. "Congress cannot allow the president to walk away from his promises, nor can we afford to continue to reduce our nuclear forces to reach treaty mandated levels without the robust modernization of the remaining U.S. nuclear weapons forces the president promised."

Declarations by the administration suggest it would strictly mull further arsenal cuts in a forthcoming plan to carry out objectives established by the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, Turner said (see GSN, Jan. 24).

A Turner spokesman told Global Security Newswire that details of the planned legislation would be issued next week following the federal budget rollout (U.S. Representative Michael Turner release, Feb. 8).

 

February 9, 2012
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A key U.S. lawmaker on Wednesday said he planned to submit a revised legislative proposal to address how the Obama administration can comply with a strategic arms control deal with Russia.