The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) advances U.S. national interests when it comes to U.S. nuclear weapons.
The bill prohibits elimination of the nuclear triad and limits availability of funds for further nuclear reductions. The President’s previous arms control treaty, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), requires the United States to spend millions of dollars reducing its nuclear weapons and complying with the treaty. It is only prudent to wait and assess the effects of the reductions under New START before conducting yet another round of unilateral nuclear weapons reductions, because the treaty does not provide for predictability, and its degraded verification regime makes it more difficult to assess Russia’s nuclear weapons capabilities. In addition, Russia is in violation of its arms control obligations.
The President stated last year in South Korea that the U.S. already has more nuclear weapons than it needs. This statement was not backed by a sound analysis of the current world and U.S. deterrence requirements. In fact, his plans remain opaque.
While the Administration promised to increase the funding for U.S. decrepit nuclear weapons infrastructure, it has not followed through—in fact, it took steps contrary to its own certifications prior to the treaty ratification. The President delayed the Chemical Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility by five years. He certified he would speed up the construction before the treaty entered into force. He also cancelled the Phase IV of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.
The U.S. is currently the only nuclear weapons state without a substantive nuclear weapons modernization program. This increases doubts about U.S. nuclear security guarantees in the minds of both U.S. allies and adversaries. The HASC NDAA takes prudent steps to halt this trend.
The bill also prohibits Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) entities from lobbying or advocating for the CTBT in the U.S. The Senate rejected the CTBT in 1999. There is no reason why the U.S. should be spending resources on the treaty’s implementation or fund lobbying activities related to the treaty.
The bill also links funds for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) with the B61 Life Extension program. Contrary to the assertion that the bill would slash the budget for the GTRI right away, it would simply ensure that the critical nuclear weapons programs remain on schedule.