Congressional Republicans on Wednesday vowed to block the Obama administration from sharply cutting the U.S. nuclear force, calling potential reductions of as much as 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons “reckless lunacy.”
Pointing to the growing number of trouble spots, from Iran to Syria to Egypt, members of the House Armed Services Committee said any significant cuts would undermine the U.S. ability to deter aggression. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the administration is weighing several options for new reductions from the current treaty limit of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee that no decision has been made and maintaining the current level is one of the options. But that did little to assuage GOP lawmakers.
“I just want to go on record as saying that there are many of us that are going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this preposterous notion does not gain any real traction,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.
The most modest option under discussion would return the United States to a level not seen in more than half a century, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. pushed ahead in a Cold War nuclear arms race. The administration is weighing at least three options for lower total numbers, cutting to around 1,000 to 1,100, 700 to 800, or 300 to 400.
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