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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:36 AM

Hagel's Call for Nuclear Disarmament Has Been Mainstream Since Reagan

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/hagels-call-for-nuclear-disarmament-has-been-mainstream-since-reagan/272597/

Hagel's Call for Nuclear Disarmament Has Been Mainstream Since Reagan

By Joseph Cirincione
Jan 29 2013, 8:01 AM ET

He wants to decrease the size of our arsenal. But so do most security experts, on both sides of the aisle -- something opponents of his nomination have forgotten.

Among the many heresies imputed to Chuck Hagel is the belief that we can greatly reduce our nuclear arsenal. The former Nebraska senator's views, however, are hardly radical -- in fact, they are downright boring. They represent the consensus of such a long list of security experts from both political parties that it is hard to list them and still keep this article interesting.

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and several other key GOP leaders base their opposition to Hagel's nomination as secretary of defense in large part on the supposedly extreme policies he advanced. Inhofe said that while Hagel's military service was commendable, he has been "an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament" and "seeks a world free of nuclear weapons."

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Opponents of Hagel's appointment like to point to two people mentioned as alternatives to Hagel, former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and current Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. They will be far more open to big nuclear budgets and big arsenals, Hagel critics hope. Sorry: Both have long shared Hagel's views. They were part of a working group that drafted a plan in 2007 for reducing nuclear threats that included the recommendation that "the U.S. and the other NPT nuclear weapons states ... should commit themselves to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and to pursuing practical steps that would lay the groundwork for moving toward that goal."

Their report also called for the rapid Senate approval of the nuclear test-ban treaty. It suggested the U.S. "explore means of increasing warning and reaction times including by lowering alert rates of their strategic systems," and consider "an operationally deployed force of fewer than 1,000 nuclear weapons." *

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