The Pentagon is working on finalizing nuclear weapons policy options for the president, who is preparing to make decisions that will set the size, structure and roles of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and set positions for future potential negotiations with Russia on force reductions below New START. The media was abuzz in the last 36 hours with reports that the options under consideration were 300-400, 700-800 or 1,000-1,100 deployed warheads.
At a hearing of the House Armed Services committee on Wednesday where Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified, Republican members were clearly distressed by the thought that the administration would even consider such reductions, calling it “reckless lunacy” and a “preposterous notion.”
In that light, you may recall the committee’s attempt last year to constrain the Obama administration’s prerogative to set U.S. nuclear policy, an attempt that was essentially neutered in the final FY12 Defense authorization bill.
A few thoughts on this latest kerfuffle: