Dems urge ‘transparent and inclusive’ nuke policy review
Twenty-two Senate Democrats are calling for a “transparent and inclusive” process in the Trump administration’s ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
“As the world’s foremost nuclear power and the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons in war, the United States has a unique responsibility to reduce the risk of their use,” the senators wrote Wednesday in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
“By conducting a transparent and inclusive nuclear posture review process that adheres to longstanding bipartisan principles, you will fulfill that duty while preserving U.S. national security interests.”
The letter was spearheaded by Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Diane Feinstein (Calif.).
In April, the Pentagon officially started the nuclear posture review, which was ordered by President Trump in January. It’s the first nuclear posture review since 2010.
The review seeks “to ensure the U.S. nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, effective, reliable and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies,” the Pentagon said in April. It is being led by the deputy Defense secretary and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and will include interagency input.
In a Senate hearing Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Paul Selva said he expects that it will take “several more months to complete” the review.
In their letter Wednesday, the Democratic senators said it is particularly important for the State Department to provide input.
“In particular, State Department bureaus with responsibilities for negotiating and verifying compliance with arms control agreements must be equal partners in the review process,” they wrote.
In urging for the results to be public, they argued that failing to do so would fuel suspicion about U.S. nuclear intentions, “undermining strategic stability and U.S. extended deterrence guarantees.”
The senators also urged for the review to uphold the 2010 New START Treaty, which set limits on the number of deployed nuclear warheads and launchers the United States and Russia are allowed.
Trump has dismissed New START as one of former President Barack Obama’s “bad deals,” calling it a “a one-sided deal.”
The senators further called for the review to continue efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and continue the moratorium on nuclear tests in place since former President George H.W. Bush’s tenure.
“We must continue moving toward a future free from the threat of nuclear war,” Markey said in a statement accompanying the letter’s release. “U.S. nuclear policy should focus on reducing the role of nuclear weapons — relying on them only to deter nuclear attack on the United States and our partners and allies – and avoid any move that could lower the threshold for use of nuclear weapons or increase the risk of inadvertent nuclear war.”
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