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Nuclear Review Nears Completion

By Jordan Reimer
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2010 – Several conclusions drawn from a nearly complete review of the nation’s nuclear posture already have been incorporated into the Defense Department’s fiscal 2011 budget request, a senior Pentagon official told Congress yesterday.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review will be presented to Congress within a month, James N. Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces.

“The Nuclear Posture Review will be a foundational document for this administration,” Miller said in a hearing on the status of U.S. strategic forces. It’s intended to be a practical work plan for the agenda laid out by President Barack Obama, he added.

The congressionally mandated review establishes U.S. nuclear policy, strategy, capabilities and force posture for the next five to 10 years. It’s conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, with representation from the military services and combatant commands. It is written in collaboration with the Energy and State departments and in coordination with the National Security Council.

The process was done concurrently with the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, both published last month. The Nuclear Posture Review originally was scheduled to be released this month, Miller said, but defense officials concluded that additional time was needed to address the range of issues under consideration in the report.

Obama has sought to minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy, with the ultimate goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. The report will provide concrete steps outlining how the United States will carry out this process while still maintaining a secure and effective nuclear arsenal as long as other nuclear states remain, Miller said.

The nuclear review also was valuable for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty negotiations with Russia, he said, helping to refine several U.S. negotiating positions, particularly on the treaty’s limitations of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles. The talks are ongoing in Switzerland and could prove historic, Miller told the panel.

“U.S. and Russian negotiators are now meeting in Geneva to complete an agreement that will reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons to their lowest levels in decades,” he said in a prepared statement.

The fiscal 2011 defense budget submission already reflects several conclusions drawn from the review, Miller said. The United States will retain a “nuclear triad” under the new START, composed of land-based missiles, submarine-launched missiles and bomber aircraft.

Budget submissions for added infrastructure investment, such as in nuclear facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in California and Oak Ridge, Tenn., also were determined based on the review. The Defense Department also requested a 13-percent increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration, in part to support life-extension program research to maintain the usefulness of aging warheads.

Miller said it’s essential that the United States continues to invest in its nuclear arsenal and infrastructure while pursuing a nuclear-free world.

“Guaranteeing the safety, security and effectiveness of our stockpile, coupled with broader research and development efforts, will allow us to pursue nuclear reductions without compromising our security,” he said.


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