US ‘needs to upgrade its nukes to eliminate nuclear weapons globally’ says Defence Sec. Jim Mattis
The Trump administration’s demand for new nuclear missiles, subs and bombers will create the stability needed to make progress on arms control, Mattis said
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has defended Donald Trump’s order to modernise America’s nuclear arsenal by saying it is actually a step towards denuclearising the world.
Mattis said on Tuesday that he recently received a letter from senators expressing concern that the new nuclear strategy would undermine traditional US leadership on reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons.
He said the strategy does just the opposite: it will strengthen deterrence of a nuclear attack, and thereby provide the security that would enable further progress on arms control.
Mattis made the remarks while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
There he made his first public comments on the White House’s new strategy, which was made public on Friday, and which calls for two new types of nuclear weapons, as well as replacing the US’s nuclear bombers and submarines over 30 years, at a cost of US$1.2 trillion.
Critics say US posture focuses heavily on what the Trump administration sees as an overdue modernisation of the nuclear arsenal, and puts less emphasis on arms control as a central part of the US approach.
But Mattis said the administration’s new nuclear strategy pays the right amount of attention to arms control, even as it focuses on strengthening the nuclear force.