National Security Leaders to President Obama: Stop the Unilateral Denuclearization of the United States

by CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY February 23, 2013

(Washington, D.C.): A group of former senior military and civilian national security professionals today called on President Barack Obama to abandon his reported intention to make further, deep and apparently unilateral reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  

Press accounts indicate that the President was planning on announcing a cut of as much as one-third of the American deterrent during his State of the Union address on February 12th. He evidently decided to postpone the unveiling of this initiative, however, when North Korea conducted on that same day it latest nuclear test - an event that underscored the fact that only the United States is, under his administration, engaging in denuclearization.  

The authors, who include two former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and eighteen others with "decades of experience with national security policy and practice," declare:             

"It is now clear that, as a practical matter under present and foreseeable circumstances, this agenda will only result in the unilateral disarmament of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. That will make the world more dangerous, not less.    

In our professional judgment...America's "Triad" of nuclear-armed land-based and submarine-launched missiles and bomber-delivered nuclear weapons have promoted strategic stability and discouraged proliferation. Steps that raise uncertainty about the viability, reliability and effectiveness of our deterrent will have the opposite effect."  

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., the President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy which facilitated this letter, observed:

"As President Obama meets today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he is expected to emphasize the United States' commitment to its most important Asian ally at a time when the threat to Japan from China and North Korea is growing by the day. The single most tangible thing Mr. Obama could do to give substance to such rhetoric would be to eschew further weakening of the U.S. nuclear arsenal - and the extended deterrent or "nuclear umbrella" it has constituted for nearly seventy years. The signers of this letter have rendered an incalculably important service by challenging the myth that doing otherwise in pursuit of a "world without nuclear weapons" is either achievable or desirable under present and foreseeable circumstances."

The full text of the letter is below.

About the Center for Security Policy The Center for Security Policy is a non-profit, non-partisan national security organization that specializes in identifying policies, actions, and resource needs that are vital to American security and then ensures that such issues are the subject of both focused, principled examination and effective action by recognized policy experts, appropriate officials, opinion leaders, and the general public. For more information visit www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org

22 February 2013  

Hon. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mr. President:              

The latest North Korean underground nuclear test represents both a danger and an opportunity.  The danger is obvious:  One of the most unstable regimes on the planet is continuing to amass the skills and the capabilities to produce, weaponize and perhaps use the most dangerous weapons known to man.  The fact that Pyongyang is doing so together with other nations hostile to us and our allies - notably, Iran - raises the possibility that the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons technologies will soon metastasize around the globe.              

The opportunity this ominous turn of events offers is the chance to reconsider your pursuit of the goal of "ridding the world of nuclear weapons."  It is now clear that, as a practical matter under present and foreseeable circumstances, this agenda will only result in the unilateral disarmament of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.  That will make the world more dangerous, not less.              

In our professional judgment, born of decades of experience with national security policy and practice, America's "Triad" of nuclear-armed land-based and submarine-launched missiles and bomber-delivered nuclear weapons has promoted strategic stability and discouraged proliferation.  Steps that raise uncertainty about the viability, reliability and effectiveness of our deterrent will have the opposite effect.              

According to published reports, you are considering further, draconian and perhaps unilateral cuts in the numbers of nuclear weapons in our arsenal.  We respectfully recommend that this plan be abandoned in favor of the fulfillment of commitments you made at the time of the New START Treaty to: modernize all three legs of the Triad; ensure the safety and deterrent effectiveness of the weapons with which they are equipped; and restore the critical industrial base that supports these forces.              

Doing otherwise will put our country, its allies and our peoples at ever- greater risk in a world that is, far from nuclear-free, awash with such weapons - with increasing numbers of them in the hands of freedom's enemies.  It is unimaginable that that is your intention.  It must not be the unintended result of your actions, either.  

Sincerely,  

  • Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, USN (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations
  • Gen. Carl E. Mundy, Jr., USMC (Ret.), Former Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Adm. Jerry Johnson, USN (Ret.), Former Vice Chief of Naval Operations
  • Adm. James "Ace" Lyons, USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • Vice Adm. Robert Monroe, USN (Ret.), Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency
  • Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.), Former Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force
  • Hon. R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence
  • Hon. John R. Bolton, Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
  • Hon. Douglas J. Feith, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  • Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, General Advisory Committee on Arms Control, 1981-1985; Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, 1986-1989
  • Lt. Gen. E.G. "Buck" Shuler, USAF (Ret.), Former Commander of the Eighth Air Force (Strategic Air Command)
  • Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, USA (Ret.), Former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific
  • Rear Adm. Robert H. Gormley, USN (Ret.), Former Chief of Studies, Analysis and War Gaming, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Hon. Kathleen Bailey, Former Assistant Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • Hon. Henry F. "Hank" Cooper, Former Director of the Defense Strategic Initiative (SDI); Former U.S. Representative to the Defense and Space Talks
  • Hon. Samantha Ravich, Former Deputy National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President
  • Hon. Troy Wade, Former Director, Defense Programs, Department of Energy
  • Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy
  • David J. Trachtenberg, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy
  • Fred Celec, Former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs


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