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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION FOR APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2003
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002
RESULTS OF THE NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:34 a.m., room SH216, Hart Senate Office Building, Senator Carl Levin (chairman) presiding.
Committee members present: Senators Levin, Landrieu, Reed, Akaka, E. Benjamin Nelson, Bingaman, Warner, Inhofe, Allard, and Sessions.
Committee staff members present: David S. Lyles, staff director; Cindy Pearson, assistant chief clerk and security manager; and Gabriella Eisen, nominations clerk.
Majority staff members present: Madelyn R. Creedon, counsel; Richard D. DeBobes, counsel; Richard W. Fieldhouse, professional staff member; and Peter K. Levine, general counsel.
Minority staff members present: Judith A. Ansley, Republican staff director; L. David Cherington, minority counsel; Edward H. Edens rV, professional staff member; Brian R. Green, professional staff member; Mary Alice A. Hayward, professional staff member; and George W. Lauffer, professional staff member.
Staff assistants present: Dara R. Alpert, Daniel K. Goldsmith, and Thomas C. Moore.
Committee members' assistants present: Erik Raven, assistant to Senator Byrd; Frederick M. Downey, assistant to Senator Lieberman; Marshall A. Hevron and Jeffrey S. Wiener, assistants to Senator Landrieu; Davelyn Noelani Kalipi, assistant to Senator Akaka; Peter A. Contostavlos, assistant to Senator Bill Nelson; Eric Pierce, assistant to Senator Ben Nelson; Benjamin L. Cassidy, assistant to Senator Warner; J. Mark Powers and John A. Bonsell, assistants to Senator Inhofe; George M. Bernier III, assistant to Senator Santorum; Robert Alan McCurry, assistant to Senator Roberts; Douglas Flanders, assistant to Senator Allard; James P. Dohoney, Jr., assistant to Senator Hutchinson; Arch Galloway II, assistant to Senator Sessions; Kristine Fauser, assistant to Senator Collins; and Derek Maurer, assistant to Senator Bunning.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR CARL LEVIN, CHAIRMAN
Chairman Levin. Good morning, everybody. The committee meets this morning to receive testimony on the results of the congressionally-mandated 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). We have the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith; the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, General John Gordon, USAF (Ret.); and the Commander in Chief of the United States Strategic Command, Admiral James Ellis, USN. We welcome all three of our witnesses.
After the Cold War, the United States forged a new relationship with Russia, including the first strategic arms control agreement, the 1991 START I Treaty, a treaty that significantly reduced U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. At Helsinki in 1997, President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin pledged that following the entry into force of START II, with its additional reductions, our two nations would work towards a START III agreement, with a deep reduction in the number of nuclear warheads to between 2,000 and 2,500 by the end of 2007. Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin specifically said that "START III will be the first strategic arms control agreement to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads."
President George W. Bush pledged to seize the historic opportunity afforded by our new relationship with Russia. Declaring that Russia is "no longer our enemy," then Governor Bush stated in a May 23, 2000, speech that "it should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further than what has already been agreed to under START II."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech at the National Defense University just 2 weeks ago that "through our Nuclear Posture Review, we adopted a new approach to strategic deterrence that increases our security while," in his words, "reducing the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons."
But the recommendations of the Nuclear Posture Review may not, in fact, reduce the actual number of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal because instead of destroying warheads, as Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin envisioned under a START III agreement, the Nuclear Posture Review proposes to shift some or all of the warheads removed from missiles, bombers, and submarines to a responsive force, in other words, a back-up force. Instead of being irreversibly destroyed, those warheads could be redeployed in a matter of weeks or months.
The Nuclear Posture Review proposes simply to move those warheads from one location to another. This approach will make it unlikely that Russia will destroy its nuclear warheads. If we store our nuclear weapons, Russia is likely to follow suit. If there are more warheads retained by Russia, the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons will increase. That was the danger cited in last year's bipartisan task force led by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler. Their task force concluded the following: 'The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation-states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home."
By failing to destroy nuclear warheads, the Nuclear Posture Review would increase the threat of proliferation at the very time when the al Qaeda terrorist network is known to be pursuing nuclear weapons. In addition to compounding the proliferation threat, this new approach to nuclear weapons appears to compound the military threat to our Nation. One of the significant achievements of START II was that it would have eliminated Russia's land-based multiwarhead (MIRVed) missiles. By essentially abandoning efforts to bring START II into force, the administration leaves open the possibility that Russia may retain these missiles that it was prepared just recently to destroy.
Secretary Rumsfeld says that the new approach "increases our security." My fear is that the opposite may be true, and that over time, America would be less secure with this approach.
Senator Allard. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The ranking Republican member, Senator Warner, will be here later, so he has asked me to fill in for him until he arrives. I looked over his statement, and instead of simply putting it into the record, I would like to go ahead and read it on his behalf. I will put my statement in the record, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank all of you for being here this morning. I think this is a very important hearing. We do want to hear from you, and on behalf of Senator Warner, I want to offer his welcome to the distinguished witnesses that we have here today.
The Nuclear Posture Review on which we will receive testimony today relates to the most destructive weapons ever devised by mankind. I applaud the chairman for focusing the committee's attention on this important issue.
I think the NPR represents a breakthrough in how we think of our strategic forces and how we respond to strategic challenges, and we all look forward to hearing our witnesses describe the new strategy in more detail.
The Nuclear Posture Review, which was required by this committee in the Fiscal Year 2001 National Defense Authorization Act and forwarded by the Department of Defense to Congress early last month, is an extraordinarily timely document. The last such review was completed in 1994, in the early years of a previous administration. At that time, the world was a vastly different place. The mutual hostility between the Soviet Union and the United States that had characterized the Cold War and had shaped our thinking about nuclear forces as strategic deterrents had faded, but not vanished. We were still trying to understand the implications of the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new threats.
Today, our relationship with Russia has dramatically improved. Presidents Bush and Putin continue to work on a new strategic framework based on common responsibilities and common interests. But new challenges continue to emerge. More nations now have nuclear weapons, still more seek nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities, and the means to deliver these powerful weapons. More nations now possess ballistic missiles, and still more seek such capabilities. Proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems is one of the greatest threats to our national security and indeed to global security.
The Nuclear Posture Review provides an innovative way to address these new security challenges by proposing dramatic reductions in deployed nuclear weapons combined with a new triad, which includes defensive systems and a robust infrastructure. The NPR provides our Nation a much more complete set of tools to deal with the wide range of threats and contingencies we will face in the future. Indeed, new defenses, precision conventional munition capabilities, and improved intelligence will help improve our picture of threats beyond those considered strategic. These improved capabilities, combined with our improved relationship with Russia, will allow us to move forward with dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons.
I believe that this document represents a fundamental, some might even say radical, departure from how we thought about strategic forces in the past and how we should respond to strategic challenges in the future. As was noted earlier, this Nuclear Posture Review relates to the most powerful weapons on the face of the Earth. We in Congress are obligated to carefully study the issues raised in this review. This hearing is the beginning of a debate and a forum in which we can gain a clearer understanding of the policy and programmatic implications embodied in the Nuclear Posture Review.
In May of last year, President Bush laid out his vision of the future. Cold War deterrence is no longer enough to maintain peace. To protect our citizens, allies, and friends, we must seek security based on more than the grim premise that we can destroy those who seek to destroy us. This is an important opportunity to rethink the unthinkable and find new ways to keep the peace.
Clearly, Cold War deterrence is no longer enough in this new, less certain world. As we debate our nuclear posture and nuclear security needs in the months and years ahead, we must be forward-thinking. This review is a welcome step in the right direction, and we all look forward to hearing your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Senator Allard follows:]
Prepared Statement By Senator Wayne Allard
Mr. Chairman and Senator Warner, thank you for holding this important hearing on the Nuclear Posture Review.
I truly believe that this document is a step forward to show that the United States is committed to reducing our nuclear arsenal. I do not believe there will be any debate about whether we should reduce our nuclear arsenal, but whether this is the right approach to doing that. I believe it is.
I agree with many here today that this is far different from the classic arms-control approach. However, we are in a different arms-control environment.
While negotiating START HI, the Clinton administration and Russia agreed on a framework in 1997 that stated that the two countries would work towards the irreversibility of weapons reductions. However, there were no definitive decisions regarding dismantlement, plus START III was never finished. Today, we have new leadership in Russia and in the United States. Our relationship also no longer reflects 50 years of conflict, but more than a decade of efforts aimed at cooperation.
Presidents Bush and Putin have pledged themselves toward a new cooperative framework. This new framework can help to strengthen U.S.-Russian relations even further. It will show that the United States and Russia can make national security decisions based on trust, not on the mistrust that treaties can imply.