Need to contain China's military capabilities, says top US senator

"We must invest not only in the delivery systems and platforms that will preserve our nuclear delivery capability, such as the next generation bomber, nuclear submarines and a new Intercontinental ballistic missile, but also in the strike aircraft and naval forces required to control the Pacific Rim as economic growth and the military capabilities of China increase," Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, said.

"The war on terror has required an expansion of our nation's ground forces, the Marine Corps, the Army, and our Special Operations Forces, and our near-term readiness.
"As we continue the effort to dismantle, defeat and disrupt al-Qaeda, we must also plan for the threats that our country will face in the coming decades," McConnell said in the Senate floor while announcing his opposition to the New START treaty.

Although the (US) President has decided there is value in pursuing a disarmament agenda, this country may determine in the coming years to place a greater reliance upon the role of strategic arms, and must remain committed to defense modernisation, he said.
"Our nation faces many challenges in the coming decades, some economic, some strategic. It would seem short-sighted to think that as North Korea, Iran and others work to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities we could draw our arsenal down to zero," McConnell said.

He said a decision of this magnitude should not be decided under the pressure of a deadline, referring to the START treaty.

"The American people don't want to squeeze our most important work into the final days of a session. They want us to take the time we need to make informed, responsible decisions. The Senate can do better than to have the consideration of a treaty interrupted by a series of controversial political items," McConnell said.

The Republican leader said he agreed with the conclusion that the New START Treaty central warhead limit of 1,550 cannot be conclusively verified.

"It allows the Russians to deploy missiles without a standard or uniform number of warheads. The limited number of warhead inspections provided for under this Treaty also limits the access of our inspectors to an upper limit of three percent of the Russian force.
"It can thus be said that this treaty places higher confidence in trust than on verification," he said.

As the State Department's recent reports on arms control compliance make clear, the Russians have previously violated provisions of the START Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention, McConnell said.

"This is a not a track record to be rewarded with greater trust. It's a reason to take our verification duties even more seriously. Despite my opposition to this Treaty, I hope the President remains committed to modernising the nuclear triad," the Senator added.

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