September 7, 2012

The Sept. 1 editorial “Loose talk on nuclear weapons” missed the true significance of President Obama’s breach of his nuclear weapons funding commitments. His proposed $370 million in cuts — with billions more to come — are not just a “minor dip”; they go to the heart of the program to refurbish aging warheads and infrastructure. His proposal will delay or prevent achievement of one of the goals of his own 2010 Nuclear Posture Review: reducing the number of “hedge” warheads in our stockpile. 

Moreover, the president abandoned commitments he made to win support for the New START treaty. In the letter to senators referenced in the editorial, he promised to “request full funding” for and “accelerate to the extent possible” construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility. The president’s Nuclear Posture Review concluded that the facility was required in 2021, but funding cuts have delayed construction to 2028 at the earliest (some nuclear experts believe that the delay is tantamount to cancellation). This is all an unnecessary risk, because alternative funding sources have been proposed to the administration.

When we find ourselves replacing antiquated vacuum tubes with modern circuit boards, the risk of further delays in warhead life extension is too great. Additionally, our decades-old land-based missile force remains without a proper replacement plan — contrary to The Post’s suggestion — while countries such as Russia and China deploy new missiles. It is more than fair to criticize the president’s failure to honor his commitments; the future of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and extended deterrent is at risk.

Jon Kyl and Michael R. Turner, Washington

Jon Kyl, a Republican, represents Arizona in the Senate, where he serves as minority whip. Michael R. Turner, a Republican, represents Ohio in the House, where he chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.