Nuclear Weapons

One step closer to State Department for Rep. Tauscher

Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California's 10th congressional district

Today, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) had her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her new position as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. It is expected that she will be confirmed relatively easily. Senator Kerry reflected on the importance of leadership on nuclear weapons issues in his opening statement:

America must pursue the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and I applaud the President for  affirming our commitment in his April speech in Prague.  This is not a dreamy vision built on naïve optimism—it is a cool calculation based on the national security interests of the United States, endorsed by steely-eyed Cold Warriors like Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.  They recognize a fundamental truth: we face a fork in the road, and if we don’t dramatically transform our policies to aim in the direction of a world free of nuclear weapons, we will face a world in which more diverse actors wield ever more dangerous weapons – and the chances of nuclear weapons being used will steadily grow….

But this moment presents ample opportunities for significant progress and perhaps even a major breakthrough in the coming months and years.  While the goal may be far-off, there is increasing agreement that prudent, practical near-term steps in that direction will make us safer along the way. We can and should be working on a number of such steps immediately—steps that Congresswoman Tauscher, if confirmed, will be charged with overseeing:

  • Dealing with North Korea’s and Iran’s unacceptable defiance of their nonproliferation commitments;
  • Negotiating a replacement for the expiring START treaty, on which, I’m pleased to note, we are reportedly making progress;
  • Securing vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years;
  • Working toward a global treaty to ban the production of fissionable material for nuclear weapons, now that the Administration has broken the nearly decade-long impasse at the UN Conference on Disarmament;
  • Consulting with the Committee and the Senate as we re-examine the case for ratifying the CTBT.

You can see Senator Kerry’s and Senator Lugar’s opening statements, as well as Rep. Tauscher’s remarks, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website. Senator Lugar’s questions for the record on a wide variety of arms control issues and Rep. Tauscher’s responses can be found at Senator Lugar’s website under “Foreign Relations Topics” here.

Once Rep. Tauscher resigns her seat, the race to replace her in CD 10 will officially begin. Calitics already has quite a few posts on the candidates who are jumping into the race.