Armed Services Dem: US nuclear policy shouldn't reflect Trump tweet

Armed Services Dem: US nuclear policy shouldn't reflect Trump tweet
© Camille Fine

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee is slamming the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released Nuclear Posture Review as an implementation of President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE’s boast of a “bigger and more powerful” nuclear button.

“A nuclear posture that implements the president’s view that his nuclear button is ‘bigger and more powerful’ is short-sighted and ill-advised,” Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithHillicon Valley — Shutterfly gets hacked Biden signs 8 billion defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Democrats spar over military justice reform MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement Wednesday. “This review is a missed opportunity to introduce realism into our nuclear weapons planning, enhance our security and reassure our allies.”

Smith was referencing a Trump tweet from earlier in January, in which Trump bragged about the size of his "nuclear button" compared to that of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump wrote.

The Pentagon is expected to release the results next month of the months-long Nuclear Posture Review, the first such review since 2010 that will set U.S. nuclear policy and modernization plans.

Earlier this month, a leaked, “pre-decisional” draft of the document was obtained and published by the Huffington Post.

Among other new proposals, the draft calls for the development of so-called low-yield nuclear weapons in order to deter Russia and China.

Smith has long been a critic of the high price tag of nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Obama administration’s plans would cost $1.2 trillion over 30 years; Smith said Wednesday the Trump administration’s plans would add to that “completely unrealistic” figure.

“It is clear to anyone observing the budget process that the current price tag of at least $1.2 trillion is completely unrealistic, and that adding to it would further draw resources away from capabilities and training that we need to most effectively counter our near-peer adversaries,” he said. “How President Trump plans to pay for these programs remains a mystery.”

The United States already has a “robust” nuclear deterrent, Smith added, warning that the recommendations in the review could spur a nuclear arms race.

“We are currently in the process of upgrading that deterrent in an effort that will cost some $40 billion per year,” he said. “That is far more than Russia’s and China’s nuclear weapons spending, and it would be irresponsible and misleading for the administration to act as if those countries are upgrading their nuclear arsenals while the United States is doing nothing. The administration’s recommendations will not increase our security — they will instead feed a nuclear arms race, undermine strategic stability by lowering the threshold for nuclear use, and increase the risk of miscalculation that could precipitate a nuclear war.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee was briefed Tuesday on the review. Senators would not discuss details such as the low-yield weapons proposal, but generally said they support modernization efforts.