Senator Inhofe Questions Commission’s Findings on the Strategic Posture of the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke with members of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States during an Armed Services Committee hearing. The Commission was created as a part of the Fiscal Year ’08 National Defense Authorization Act and is facilitated by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  The final report, which was released yesterday, provides approximately 100 findings and recommendations aimed at strengthening America’s strategic security.   


“The only finding by the Commission in which there was not 100% agreement was over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), proving that there are still serious concerns with the substance of this Treaty and that our President and Congress should take extreme caution before rushing its ratification,” Senator Inhofe said.  “The Senate rejected the CTBT in 1999 by an overwhelming majority for good and substantial reasons, determining that the treaty would create unnecessary risk for basic requirements of U.S. national security. The first matter any arms control treaty must address is whether compliance with the obligations it creates can be verified.  As President Ronald Regan once said, we must ‘trust but verify.’  The CTBT was found by the Senate to be fatally lacking on this point.  In October 2008, Secretary Gates stated at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, ‘To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program.’  The Commission’s report, and the fact that this was the only issue in which the members could not agree, yields valuable cautions that the Senate and President should take seriously.  

“The Commission’s report touched briefly on an issue I feel very strongly about, Ballistic Missile Defense.  The report recommends that “the United States should develop and, where appropriate, deploy missile defenses against regional nuclear aggressors, including against limited long-range threats.’ It also states that the United States should develop effective capabilities to defend against increasingly complex missile threats. This suggests that we must continue to modernize and improve upon the missile defense capabilities currently being fielded to defend against missiles of all ranges – including long-range threats. I wholeheartedly agree with this, but am concerned about the apparent disconnect between this recommendation and the Secretary of Defense’s recent decision to reduce funding for missile defense by $1.4 billion and to terminate systems, such as the Airborne Laser and Multiple Kill Vehicle programs, which are designed to improve the ability of our national missile defense system and to defend against “increasingly complex missile threats,” as the report suggests. We must be able to defend our nation as well as our NATO and European allies against rouge nation ballistic missile threats. Though the Commission recommends the U.S. work with Russia to come to an understanding on missile defense, we must not rely on Russia to protect the United States from long-range missile threats, specifically from Iran.  We should, therefore, continue developing the ‘Third Site’ in the Czech Republic and Poland.

 “The Commission’s report states that the U.S. should employ a broad concept of deterrence.  In Recommendation 1, the report states ‘the force structure should be sized and shaped to meet a diverse set of national objectives.  This requires a high-level assessment of strategic context.’ Presumably, this is the purpose of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which are just now getting started. In light of this recommendation, I am concerned that the Administration plans to conduct negotiations with the Russians on a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) follow-on that reduces U.S. force levels below the 2,200-1,700 warheads codified in the Moscow Treaty before it has completed the QDR and NPR. While the Russian inventory is scheduled to be reduced to 2,200 from 2,800 by 2012, we should not rush to draft another treaty when there are provisions in the current treaty that allow us to extend negotiations up to five years, especially without the background analysis that would be provided by the QDR and NPR.  A further reduction of the U.S. inventory is unnecessary and would create a larger inventory imbalance with Russia that would likely only serve to upset regional alliances.

 “The Commission concludes that the conditions for nuclear abolition do not exist today.  Therefore, the United States must maintain and sustain its triad of strategic nuclear systems to deter attacks against the United States and its allies, as well as to prevent the proliferation of these weapons.  In order to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent, our nuclear force structure must be properly sized composed and modernized based on a rigorous analysis. Finally, this country must always maintain its ability to defend itself and its allies if deterrence fails.  A layered missile defense system is critical to that defense.”