U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar released the following statement and letters regarding the New START Treaty:
Last July, the Directors of the three main National Laboratories responsible for our nuclear stockpile testified before the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees on the 1251 report.
Earlier this week, I wrote to the Laboratory Directors to obtain their views on the updated 1251 plan submitted in November. Senator Kerry joined me in my request.
Today, I received a response from all three Lab Directors.
The letters are available at http://lugar.senate.gov/issues/start/.
The three Laboratory Directors state that they are “very pleased by the update to the Section 1251 Report, as it would enable the laboratories to execute our requirements for ensuring a safe, secure, reliable and effective” nuclear weapon stockpile.
They contend the updated plan “clearly responds to many of the concerns that we and others have voiced in the past about potential future-year funding shortfalls, and it substantially reduces risks to the overall program.”
Finally, they state: “In summary, we believe that the proposed budgets provide adequate support to sustain the safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of America’s nuclear deterrent within the limit of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads established by the New START Treaty with adequate confidence and acceptable risk.”
This is not a political judgment. The President and the Vice President are not saying this. They did not request these views. These are the nuclear weapons experts in the United States and these are their views. They are telling us this plan gives them confidence that we can credibly modernize and maintain our nuclear weapons under the 1251 plan. They saw no reason to further question the 1251 plan. I do not believe we should question their judgment.
Now, we must all work to ensure funding for the plan. As I have previously said, a first step in that direction is ratification of the New START Treaty.