22 September 2016
The country could stand to shrink its nuclear arsenal, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee said on Thursday.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said at the Stimson Center that the U.S. can't afford its nuclear stockpiles and could project the same level of deterrence with a smaller number of them.
"From a priority standpoint, it's the wrong priority," Smith said. "We need a nuclear deterrent, there's no question about that. But the level, size and cost of the nuclear deterrent, I think it doesn't warrant the threats that we face."
Smith said the current number of U.S. nuclear weapons would be needed if the U.S. enters a nuclear conflict
with China, Russia and North Korea, and "at that point, we're pretty much all toast anyways," he said.
A small number of weapons, he said, can still let enemies know "don't screw with us or we will obliterate you," especially since today's nuclear weapons are more powerful than those used more than 70 years ago in Japan.
While he said all three legs of the triad could shrink, the land-based piece is the one "we can most afford to reduce." That leaves ballistic missile submarines and aerial bombers.
"I'm very fond of the submarines because they're obviously the most reliable and usable," he said.