Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Summary of Sen. Kyl’s Speech on Nuclear Weapons

The Center’s Executive Director, John Isaacs, recently put together a terrific summary of Sen. Jon Kyl’s talk yesterday on nuclear weapons, RRW, a world free of nuclear weapons, and space weapons at National Defense University. Check it out below.

As Kyl had recently spoken on missile defense to another audience, he focused on nuclear weapons in his talk.

Kyl said the U.S. needs a debate on nuclear issues; the other side (the anti-nuclear weapons forces) are dominating the debate. He particularly was critical of the Kissinger-Shultz et al position which is long on ideals but short on facts. Kyl said that their call for a world free of nuclear weapons is just a continuation of the old nuclear freeze movement. He is concerned that the U.S. is moving toward unilateral nuclear disarmament.

On the other hand, he praised the statement by five retired generals (including Shalikasvili) calling for the need to maintain a nuclear first strike.

Kyl complained that the U.S. used to maintain a robust nuclear force, technology, testing, and well-trained nuclear work force, but that that is currently being eroded. The U.S. has let its nuclear infrastructure wither away. It takes a long time to develop nuclear weapons. With the eroding work force, it is like having a brain surgeon who has never worked on brains.

Kyl complained that Congress killed the $90 million request to study the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program last year and cut half a billion from the nuclear weapons complex. It was all because of two Members of Congress, Visclosky and Hobson. This year, in an election season, the Bush Administration requested only $10 million showing how discouraged the Administration is and they are not trying hard any more. They are tired of hitting their heads against the wall.

Clinton and Obama have endorsed a radical nuclear agenda. This is true while so many other countries are building nuclear weapons including Russia, China, UK, France, Iran, North Korea, etc. They are building new nuclear weapons whether or not the U.S. builds nuclear weapons such as the RRW.

What the U.S. needs is an informed debate, not fuzzy notions. It is important to explain the consequences of no nuclear weapons.

Kyl pointed out that the Kissinger-Shultz op-ed calls for ratification of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He said the treaty was rejected because it could not be verified when the Senate considered it and it is still not verifiable (he appears to have recent confirmation of that view).

Congress should make a jurisdictional change; Energy and Water should not deal with nuclear weapons.

The loss of nuclear weapons from the Minot base shows there is an inattention to nuclear weapons, further proof that our nuclear weapons complex is eroding.

Kyl said we should focus on the total Regan legacy; Reagan called for a world without nuclear weapons but also warned against unilateral disarmament or wishing that this kind of step were true.

In response to questions, Kyl called the U.S. a giant tied down by Lilliputians such as non-governmental organizations, international bodies, etc. The U.S. is too constrained.

When asked why the Bush Administration is not fighting harder for RRW, Kyl said the Administration is too tired, disorganized, has no leadership, earlier was too arrogant, and is not getting enough support.

Kyl would not comment on the Iran NIE.

He criticized Hans Blix for saying that nuclear weapons in the hands of the British is the same as in the hands of the North Koreans.

Kyl said that Bush is not in a good position to lead the debate on nuclear weapons; he is not the most credible spokesman on the issue. Instead, McCain should take up nuclear weapons, but only as a side issue, not a major issue.

He called the abandonment of the ABM Treaty in 2001 the seminal achievement of 2001 except that it was overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks (someone in attendance suggested a resolution requiring an annual celebration of the U.S. exiting from the treaty.)

In 2008, Kyl's main hope on missile defense is to get the $10 million approved for the space based test bed. He wants to embed some progress on space. It is a silly idea that we should not weaponize space when there are already so many weapons in space.

1 comment:

Russ Wellen said...

Could he wind up in a McCain cabinet? I'm scaring myself.