ICYMI: SASC Chairman Inhofe Remarks at SASC Nuclear Policy and Posture Hearing

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, gave opening remarks this morning at a SASC hearing to receive testimony on nuclear policy and posture.

As prepared for delivery:

Good morning. The committee meets today to receive testimony from experts outside the government on nuclear policy and posture. I’d like to welcome our witnesses:

  • Madelyn Creedon, former Principal Deputy Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration;
  • Frank Miller, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council staff; and
  • General Robert Kehler, former Commander, U.S. STRATCOM.

As this committee focuses on implementing the National Defense Strategy, one of our priorities remains nuclear modernization. We heard earlier this week that our adversaries never stopped investing in nuclear weapons, while we neglected our nuclear programs and infrastructure. That has put us in danger of falling behind.

Now, we need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad, as well as warheads and infrastructure at the Department of Energy. There has been bipartisan support for these programs in the past, and I am hopeful that support will continue.

Yet we have heard proposals recently for dramatic changes in our nuclear policy and force posture. Some believe we could scale back modernization programs and still deter our adversaries. Others propose that we intentionally make our ICBMs slower to respond, or require Congress to intervene before a Commander-in-Chief could use a nuclear weapon, even in the most extreme situations.

Some have even suggested cutting an entire leg of the nuclear triad – or two. Today, I hope you will help us understand the importance of timely nuclear modernization—and sensible policy—to the overall national security of the United States.

We are also faced with several current issues related to arms control. While our colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee will no doubt discuss these issues at length, the implications of the withdrawal from the INF Treaty are of great interest to this committee. So is the decision on whether or not to extend the New START, and I am interested in your opinions on these questions.

Combined, the three of you have broad expertise on nuclear operations, DoD and DoE nuclear programs, and arms control. This is a very well-informed panel and I look forward to your testimony. Senator Reed.