Tester, Baucus: Potential cuts to nuclear weapons ‘misguided’ and ‘simply don’t make sense’

Senators respond to reports President will call for reductions in State of the Union

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus today released the following statements amid reports that President Obama will push to reduce the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night:

“It would be misguided to further alter our nuclear stockpile before the New START Treaty is fully implemented, and the Administration needs to put the brakes on any plan that weakens our national defense,” Tester said. “Nuclear weapons are the centerpiece of our defense strategy, and I will not support any short-sighted effort that threatens our national security.”

“Without a doubt, a strong ICBM force gives America maximum nuclear deterrence for our money – and in today’s budget crunch, it simply doesn’t make sense to cut one of the most cost-effective ways to keep America safe. I will fight hard against any plan that ignores the facts and puts American security or Montana jobs at risk,” said Baucus, who was recently named co-chair of the Senate ICBM coalition.

The United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos, missiles aboard nuclear submarines, and nuclear bombers. Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are the most cost-effective leg of the triad because they cost less to maintain and recently underwent a thorough modernization program.

Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Great Falls, maintains and secures 150 ICBMs across north-central Montana.

The bipartisan New START Treaty will be implemented between now and 2017. The Obama Administration previously indicated that it would not need to make any personnel reductions at Malmstrom as a result of the treaty’s implementation.

Tester and Baucus, both members of the Senate’s bipartisan ICBM Coalition, strongly support Malmstrom’s ICBM mission. Malmstrom’s ICBM mission accounts for more than 40 percent of the economy in north-central Montana and contributes to approximately 5,000 jobs.