The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee warned President Trump on Wednesday that if he launches new nuclear programs, it will suck “all of the money out of the budget.”
Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithStumbling plutonium pit project reveals DOE's uphill climb of nuclear modernization Congress should control its appetite for legacy programs when increasing defense budget House panel advances 8B defense bill MORE (D-Wash.) said costly nuclear programs would pull money away from shipbuilding, military readiness and other priorities.
“We start spinning out some areas that require us to spend another trillion dollars on nuclear weapons, then you can forget about readiness, you can forget about having ships you want made,” he said at a conference sponsored by Credit Suisse and McAleese and Associates.
He said he’d advise Trump against accelerating the Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) weapon — an aircraft-launched nuclear cruise missile — or building up new nuclear capabilities.
Smith further argued the United States has more than enough nuclear weapons, at least four times as many as China, in order to deter possible acts of aggression.
“What we really need to do on the nuclear strategy is to avoid any sort of miscalculation to get it in the mind of North Korea, for instance, that they can drop a nuclear weapon somewhere and survive,” he said. “We have to diplomatically make sure they know that is not acceptable and that we have more than sufficient nuclear weapons to cause you an enormous amount of harm if you step across that line.”
He did say that the Pentagon should modernize the nuclear force “to some extent,” but added this would not require a large amount of spending.
Smith has long argued against building up the country’s nuclear arsenal and has even suggested the United States could shrink it to save valuable dollars maintaining the stockpile.
Smith is not alone; many lawmakers are concerned with Trump’s stated nuclear goals.
In a September presidential debate, Trump said he “would certainly not do first strike,” but then added: “At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table.”
And in December Trump wrote on Twitter that the United States should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”
Several lawmakers have since sought to prohibit Trump’s ability to launch nuclear weapons, reintroducing a bicameral bill in January that would restrict the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.