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U.S. Will Maintain Nuclear Deterrent

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 1997 – The United States will maintain its strategic nuclear arsenal even as it streamlines and modernizes its armed forces, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told personnel at U.S. Strategic Command.

"We will continue to maintain a robust, adequate nuclear deterrent to make sure that no one would be foolish enough to ever attempt to fire a nuclear weapon at the United States," Cohen said May 29 at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Cohen visited Strategic Command headquarters accompanied by Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey during a three-day trip that included visits to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command at Colorado Springs.

"The deterrence that Strategic Command provides is the key foundation of our national security," Cohen said. Reliance upon strategic forces will continue, he said, but DoD officials will also explore new frontiers of conventional capabilities. Advanced technology will provide "the kind of power and precision that will make nuclear weapons perhaps less relevant than at any time in our history," Cohen said. It will also provide "a conventional capability that will far surpass anything any potential adversary might possess."

Even though the West has a better relationship with Russia today, Cohen said, the United States must maintain a strong nuclear deterrence. "That deterrent is found right here in the role that Strategic Command plays in our lives," he said. "This is where deterrence begins."

Strategic Command's nuclear mission is vital considering what nuclear weapons could do to the people of the United States, Kerrey said. "In the time that we left our car to walk in here to hold this press conference," Kerrey said, "it would have been possible for Russia to retarget its missiles on the United States. Of all the threats we face as a country, there's only one that could annihilate the United States of America and everybody living in it, and that's the nuclear weapons that face us in the nation of Russia."

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