Hoeven Opposes White House Plan to Cut Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today rejected President Obama’s plan to cut the nation’s nuclear arsenal by one-third beyond the levels set by the New START Treaty, which the U.S. signed with Russia in 2010.

That agreement requires the United States to reduce the nation’s nuclear arsenal from about 2,500 nuclear missiles to about 1,500. The plan the president announced today will further reduce the U.S. missile force, to approximately 1,000 missiles, a nearly two-thirds reduction to the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces in just a few years.

In a speech in February, Hoeven called on the Obama administration to fully implement the New START treaty before considering any further nuclear weapons reductions. Hoeven and Senate colleagues called on the president in a 2011 letter to consult with Congress before making further nuclear reductions.

“We have yet to reduce our nuclear forces to the level required by the New START Treaty, which was ratified in 2010,” Hoeven said. “With Russia, China and North Korea expanding their nuclear arsenals, and Iran working furiously to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon, it makes no sense to cut our levels by another third beyond the treaty.

“The U.S. currently has an arsenal that our military commanders believe is appropriately sized to address the strategic threats facing the United States,” Hoeven said. “If anything, the world is more dangerous now than it was when New START was ratified just a few years ago. I don’t see how our security can be improved by slashing our strategic forces, especially as other countries like Russia, China and North Korea continue to increase their nuclear arsenals.”

Hoeven pointed out that following the implementation of the New START treaty, the United States will have about 10 percent of the nuclear weapons it had at the height of the Cold War. Today’s arsenal consumes less than three percent of the annual defense budget.

“We have cut and cut and cut our nuclear forces,” Hoeven said. “It is dangerous to assume a minimal nuclear deterrent will forever protect us and our allies. We simply do not know what lower numbers mean in a world with an increasing number of nuclear competitors. We do know that a smaller U.S. arsenal gives us less flexibility to address future strategic threats.”

The senator also highlighted the danger of nuclear proliferation following cuts to U.S. nuclear weapons. “The President’s plan greatly increases the risk of nuclear proliferation. Our adversaries do not share the President’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons and will continue to build up their forces. Meanwhile, our allies would lose confidence in the U.S. deterrent and decide to build their own nuclear weapons. Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons means stopping the President’s plan.”