President Obama will push to reduce the nation’s nuclear arsenal in his State of the Union address, according to a report.
The New York Times reported Monday that Obama while Obama is unlikely to provide specific figures in his Tuesday address to Congress, a proposal would cut the arsenal of deployed missiles to around 1,000, a one-third reduction from current levels.
The report says that Obama has already secured the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the plan, with top brass believing the reductions will not compromise military capabilities.
But such measures are likely to face opposition from GOP lawmakers who have objected to past cuts in the nuclear arsenal, and amid concern about Russia and Iran.
Republicans opposed the New Start treaty, which Obama signed into law in 2011 after it was ratified by the Senate. The law limits the number of warheads Russia and the United States can hold and re-established monitoring systems to ensure compliance.
After an open mic during the 2012 campaign caught Obama promising his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, more flexibility on issues including missile defense after the election, Republicans pounced, accusing the president of already having committed to further cuts.
The report said that Obama is considering how best to reach an agreement with Russia to jointly reduce stockpiles. The president will send top national security adviser Tom Donilon to Russia next month, according to the Times, to discuss the groundwork for talks.
The administration, though, is reportedly reluctant to craft a new treaty with Russia that could include restrictions on NATO missile-defense efforts and could spark a fight with Senate Republicans over ratification.
The renewed nuclear debate also comes as Senate Republicans have taken a forceful stance against Obama’s nominee for Defense secretary, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Many GOP senators have not ruled out filibustering Hagel.
The reduced nuclear arsenal could also help save the Pentagon much needed funds, as the military faces steep cuts over the next decade and the threat of across-the-board sequestration cuts set to take effect beginning on March 1.