Disarming America

State Department advisory board urges deeper nuclear force cuts including unilateral reductions

A State Department board of experts is calling for steep cuts in U.S. nuclear forces beyond the New START treaty limits and recommends unilateral or informal reductions to avoid expected Senate ratification battles.

“Treaties are an important but not always necessary method for reducing nuclear arsenals,” the new report by the International Security Advisory Board says. “The United States has reduced its nuclear arsenal without negotiating a new treaty in the past—both unilaterally and reciprocally with Russia.”

A similar cut in nuclear forces could be considered again “as the United States reduces the role and number of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy,” the report says.

Disclosure of the State Department report comes as President Barack Obama, who has advocated eliminating all U.S. nuclear weapons, is close to approving a formal strategy that calls for deep cuts in nuclear forces beyond the 1,550 warheads mandated under the 2010 New START accord.

The International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) report, signed by its chairman, former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, also recommends speeding up reductions or amending the New START treaty to include cuts in both tactical and strategic warheads.

The report also suggests that further nuclear cuts can be made through “parallel” U.S. and Russian reductions or even cuts by the United States alone.

A second proposal calls for Washington and Moscow to “lay the groundwork” for cuts in tactical nuclear weapons as a way of “expediting the process for a future treaty.”

Third, the board report calls for “mutual” nuclear reductions below New START levels and including non-strategic weapons.

The United States could communicate to Russia that the United States is prepared to go to lower levels of nuclear weapons as a matter of national policy, consistent with the strategy developed in the Nuclear Posture Review, if Russia is willing to reciprocate,” the report said.

“This could improve stability by reducing Russia’s incentive to deploy a new heavy ICBM.”

…Russia is demanding that the United States agree to legally binding limits to missile defense deployments in Europe. The United States insists its joint NATO missile defenses are part of efforts to counter Iranian missile threats. Russia regards the defenses as a threat to its offensive strategic missiles.

The administration so far has rejected the missile defense limits. However, Obama was overheard telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in March that after his reelection he would have “more flexibility” in missile defense talks, comments widely interpreted by critics as a sign he will offer Russia limits on missile defenses as part of new arms reductions talks.

The Free Beacon obtained a copy of the unclassified 22-page report, dated Nov. 27. It is based on the work of a blue-ribbon commission of 24 experts including former policymakers and three retired generals.

…Russia currently has several thousand non-strategic nuclear warheads while the United States has several hundred. The U.S. tactical warheads are needed for so-called “extended deterrence in Europe and Asia that have prevented allies from developing their own nuclear forces.”

Critics have said cutting U.S. tactical nuclear weapons could lead other nations to build their own arsenals.

…A senior Senate arms control specialist criticized the report. “How can it be that only two years after this administration said 1,550 warheads on 700 deployed delivery vehicles is, a, not something we had to reach until 2018 and, b, good until 2021 [when New START expires], that now we have to go lower, and on our own, with or without Russia?” the specialist asked.

“The answer is that it has always been easier for the disarmers to reduce American power than to get agreement with the Senate ever to do it,” the specialist said. “We now see this, plainly and in their own words. And we are going to fight it.”

The specialist said acting State Department undersecretary of international security Rose Gottemoeller will be asked to explain the disagreement in the future when she is expected to seek Senate support.

“Elections may have consequences, but this arrogant report speaks volumes about the empty, preemptive capitulation that has become the Obama record,” the specialist said.

“The Obama administration is hell bent to denuclearize the world starting with our arsenal,” said Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy. “The group they convened to provide political cover for doing so completely embraces this truly irresponsible and actually reckless policy approach.”

State Department spokesman Jamie Mannina said the ISAB “provides its recommendations to the Secretary of State.”

“They do not set policy,” he added.

Full article: Disarming America (Washington Free Beacon)

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