U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s focus through the ratification process for the new START treaty has been to ensure that if the U.S. reduces its strategic nuclear stockpiles over the next several years, the treaty does not inhibit the ability to maintain and continue to improve a robust missile defense system.
In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider a treaty between the United States and Russia to reduce our strategic nuclear weapons. My focus through the ratification process for the New START treaty has been to ensure that if we reduce our strategic nuclear stockpiles over the next several years, the treaty does not inhibit our ability to maintain and continue to improve a robust missile defense system and that we ensure our country’s remaining weapons are safe, secure and reliable.
The United States is currently the only nuclear weapons country not adequately investing in modernization. If the U.S. is going to take weapons out of service, most Americans would like to know the arms we do have will work and are safe while in storage. A recent column in the Knoxville News Sentinel mischaracterized my role in the Senate’s consideration of the treaty, and I would like to set the record straight.
As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have been conducting a thorough review of the treaty and its implications for our national security. I have attended a number of hearings, my staff and I have met with nuclear experts, advocates and former lab directors as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Member Richard Lugar, and I have traveled with senators from both parties to three of the nation’s nuclear facilities where the weapons work takes place, including Sandia and Los Alamos in New Mexico, and Y-12 in Oak Ridge.
If Americans had witnessed, as I did, the deteriorating state of our nuclear infrastructure and weapons, they would recognize the urgency to maintain them. Reduction of our country’s nuclear arms must go hand-in-hand with ensuring the nuclear force we have is fully operational. Before a treaty can be ratified, we must ensure there are appropriate commitments to fully invest in the rehabilitation of the warheads and their components.
Tennessee is playing a critical role in this process. Planning is already underway for the construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Y-12, which is one piece of a larger nationwide effort to right-size our nuclear infrastructure and maintain a safe and secure nuclear deterrent.
The intended purpose for this facility is not for developing new weapons. Rather, its purpose is to reutilize elements of the bombs and warheads we have, taking the work that is being done now in an inefficient and unsafe manner and providing the right facility at a cost that will eventually pay for itself in savings.
It is my sincere hope to be able to support this treaty. To get there, we need to invest in modernization of the remaining arsenal, guarantee that there are no limits on our ability to engage in missile defense and make sure there is appropriate verification of Russia’s commitments under the treaty. If these objectives are met, in conjunction with the prescribed reductions under this treaty, we will be more secure as a country.
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Source: U.S. Senator Bob Corker | Knoxville News Sentinel
Photo: Office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker