At last week’s House Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on the FY 2014 budget request for nuclear weapons programs at the Department of Energy and the Pentagon, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) once again declared his intention to use the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent the United States from implementing New START:
Want you all to know that the Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Whitman and I are sending a letter to the White House informing the president we will not be providing any of the New START reduction funding, the 75 million (dollars) requested in FY ’14 budget submission, until we get the plan required in FY ’12 NDAA and his personal commitment that he will not seek reductions that circumvent the treaty or the congressional authorization process.
Rogers’ impending attack on New START will mark the third year in a row that the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee will attempt to undermine US security by stymieing the treaty.
The House Armed Services Committee is set to begin marking up the FY 2014 NDAA next week. When asked by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) if Rodgers’ proposed obstructionism makes any sense, STRATCOM Commander Gen. Robert Kehler (politely) replied:
GEN. KEHLER: Sir, if I could sort of take the military part of that first and then Ms. Creedon might be better able to handle the policy part.
Our belief is that we should continue with our preparatory actions and be allowed to continue with sizing the force to get to the New START limits. It’s a signed, ratified treaty, and our concern is always that we don’t find ourselves in a position where we’re the reason for why we don’t meet an implementation date that the nation has signed up to.
So in my view, we need to continue to go forward.
Now, all the decisions on force structure and how we’re going to do that aren’t yet made. And so, as Ms. Creedon described earlier, there are some open questions yet about how we intend to structure the force. But preliminary steps are under way by both the Air Force and the Navy, there are things that we are doing today to get down to the New START Treaty levels. And we intend to do that in compliance with what Congress has told us we have to comply with.
As for Rogers conditioning New START implementation on a pledge from the administration that it will only pursue possible further reductions below New START via a legally-binding treaty or a congressional-executive agreement, this ignores the inconvenient truth that previous Presidents, especially Republican Presidents, have adjusted the size of the nuclear arsenal both with – and without – formal treaties or executive agreements.