By Jeremy Herb - 06/19/13 03:28 PM EDT
“What Obama sees as compromise, [Vladimir] Putin sees as weakness," Ayotte said. "The U.S. should negotiate with the Kremlin from a position of strength."
Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that “now is not to the time to pursue further strategic nuclear force reductions."
“A country whose conventional military strength has been weakened due to budget cuts ought not to consider further nuclear force reductions while turmoil in the world is growing,” Inhofe said.
“The president seems only concerned with winning the approval of nations like Russia, who will applaud a weakened United States,” Turner said. “The president is undertaking these unilateral cuts on his own because he knows it would never earn congressional approval or the support of the American people he has pledged to defend.”
In his speech, Obama said that reducing the number of strategic nuclear weapons to about 1,000 could still ensure the security of the U.S. and its allies. A similar move from Russia, he said, would help “move beyond Cold War postures.”
"So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," Obama told a crowd of thousands gathered on the east side of the gate that once separated East Berlin from West.
Republican complaints about Obama’s desire to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpiles date back to the New START treaty with Russia, negotiated in the president’s first term.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said it "strains credulity" that the president would seek a new round of arms control with the Russians while Moscow is "cheating on a major existing nuclear arms control treaty."
As part of the deal to win congressional approval, Obama agreed to modernize the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, which Republicans say the president has failed to follow through on.
“While the administration has assured me that no further reductions will occur outside of treaty negotiations and the advice and consent of the Senate, the president’s announcement without first fulfilling commitments on modernization could amount to unilateral disarmament,” said Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Obama’s announcement won praise from Democrats like House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (Wash.), who has fought Republicans in the committee over spending more on nuclear weapons and missile defense.
“The president’s announcement today will allow the United States to lead the way on nuclear weapons reductions in a manner that strengthens our national security,” Smith said. “The president clearly understands that a strong nuclear deterrent remains essential. We have, and would retain, the ability to destroy the world many times over.”