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Republican Senators Urge Obama to Pursue Nuclear Updates

A group of 12 first-term Republican senators on Thursday urged President Obama to follow through on his commitment to updating the nation's nuclear weapons and associated infrastructure, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a press release (see GSN, April 20).

The administration in 2010 announced a 10-year, $85 billion nuclear weapons complex spending plan as it sought to secure Senate endorsement of a strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. The New START treaty, which entered into force in February 2011, requires both nations by 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic arsenal to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery devices.

The National Nuclear Security Administration for fiscal 2013 is requesting $7.6 billion for programs “to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.” The figure is 5 percent more than the funding Congress provided for the current fiscal year, but $372 million less than what the administration projected in 2010.

"Those of us who came to the Senate after the New START was ratified, and who were already skeptical of the treaty's merits, will watch closely to see how these commitments are carried out," the lawmakers told Obama in a written communication. "A failure to honor past nuclear modernization commitments will impact our willingness to support New START implementation and any future treaties related to our nuclear weapons complex."

"While our nation's fiscal crisis demands that we make difficult budget decisions, failing to address our nation's nuclear modernization requirements will add a needless national security crisis to our nation's fiscal crisis. Reductions to nuclear force levels mandated by New START cannot be made without unacceptable risk unless the arsenal and the weapons complex are modernized," according to the letter.

Ayotte inked the document with Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ronald Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) (U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte release, April 26).

Meanwhile, 10 Russian specialists last week checked out ICBMs at the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota under the terms of the New START accord, the Minot Daily News reported (Minot Daily News, April 25).

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GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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