AP NEWS

Adam Smith, key House Democrat, vows to kill Trump’s planned low-yield nuke

March 12, 2019

The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday he hopes to “kill” funding for President Trump’s proposed low-yield nuclear weapon program even though Mr. Trump’s fiscal 2020 defense budget calls for more money for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, said Tuesday at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. ”‘Low-yield’ doesn’t make any sense. A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon.”

Many others disagree with me on that, and well see how that plays out,” Mr. Smith said, referring to the Republican-held Senate that is likely to push back on his proposal, and the need to have President Trump sign any Pentagon funding bill into law.

Mr. Smith has long been a critic of nuclear modernization and has vowed to reduce spending on the country’s nuclear arsenal. He has called for a review of the Trump administrations Nuclear Posture Review and a ban on low-yield nuclear warheads, among other weapons.

On Tuesday, however, the chairman said he is not in favor of completely eliminating the U.S. nuclear stockpile, but rather having “fewer warheads.”

“You cannot unring the bell. ... As long as that technology is out there, we need to be in a position to deter anyone from using it,” he said.

In January, a Congressional Budget Office analysis projected the total cost for maintaining and improving the U.S. governments nuclear missile arsenal at $494 billion over the next decade, a cost Mr. Smith labeled “unaffordable.”

Mr. Smith also hinted at plans to reverse existing policy banning cooperation between the U.S. and Russian militaries.

“We should reopen the military-to-military conversation” to prevent “miscalculations,” he said. “I’m concerned about a lot of those channels of communication broke down ... prior to the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Ultimately, Mr. Smith conceded that Congress needs to pass the defense bill.

“We’re going to work together to get it,” he said. “But I want to spur the conversation, and hopefully get a more efficient, more effective Pentagon where it really matters where you spend the money.”