Last week, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and 26 other representatives sent a letter to President Obama urging him to ensure the Nuclear Posture Review puts the US on a path toward nuclear disarmament. Peace Action West worked closely with Rep. Stark’s office, encouraging representatives in the western states to sign on to the letter. With the review due in early 2010, now is an important time for the president to hear from Congress. Rep. Stark’s office issued this press release about the letter:
WASHINGTON – Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and 26 of his colleagues sent President Obama a letter urging him to take an active role in ensuring that the Nuclear Posture Review reflects his views supporting nuclear disarmament. The Nuclear Posture Review is a report that determines the United States’ agenda on nuclear weapons for the next five to ten years. The Defense Department will finalize the Review this month.
“Progress toward a nuclear weapons free world is critical to making America and the global community safer,” said Peace Action West Executive Director Jon Rainwater. “With more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the risk of accidental launches or theft puts Americans at risk. We appreciate Rep. Stark’s leadership in urging President Obama to use the Nuclear Posture Review to reduce the role nuclear weapons play in our security policy. Actions like these by members of Congress are crucial to creating a safer world, free of nuclear weapons.”
The press release also includes the text of the letter, with specific policy recommendations, and a list of the 26 representatives that signed on.
The Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review will have to answer questions like whether or not the US will pursue new warhead designs and if the US would use nuclear weapons to respond to a non-nuclear attack. A Nuclear Posture Review that contradicts President Obama’s Prague speech committing the US to work toward nuclear disarmament will make progress toward that goal much more difficult in the next decade.
Over the summer, news reports circulated about a high level meeting with Vice President Biden, Defense Secretary Gates, Secretary of Energy Chu, and Secretary of State Clinton. Global Security Newswire reported that:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised the idea of reinstating the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead effort during a secret “Principals’ Committee” meeting convened by the National Security Council…
However, Biden has strongly opposed the move, based on the view that pursuing a new U.S. warhead program could undermine Washington’s efforts to discourage nuclear weapons proliferation around the globe.
Given the internal debate within the administration over new nuclear weapons like the Reliable Replacement Warhead, it is important that members of Congress speak out in favor of policies that reject outdated Cold War thinking and will make America safer.