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Team Biden push for unilateral arms control undercuts G-7 China communique

A U.S. Tomahawk Block 5 land attack cruise missile. The submarine launched cruise missile-nuclear (SLCM-N) would have been a development of this model.
FPI / June 17, 2021


By Richard Fisher

The Biden Administration is choosing to forego new tactical nuclear weapons to advance illusory arms control objectives that will endanger American security goals in Asia and Europe, increasing the chances of war.

These decisions are likely to undermine his administration’s recent progress at the June 11-13 G-7 Summit in Cornwall, England, whose communique for the first time identified a list of rebukes against China, including over human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the Wuhan China virus, and unfair trade practices.

It was highlighted by a first-time statement, “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

In a June 4 memo to the leadership of the U.S. Navy on future budget priorities for the fiscal year 2023 (FY2023), Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker stated, “Defund the sea launched cruise missile-Nuclear development efforts.” However, the FY2022 budget contains $5.8 million to begin development of the SLCM-N.

The recommendation to rebuild a Sea Launched Cruise Missile-Nuclear (SLCM-N) was part of the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which produced a decision to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia and build new theater nuclear systems like SLCM-N.

The U.S. Navy had deployed a tactical nuclear weapon armed version of the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile (TLAM-N) from 1983 to 1991, as a more secure theater nuclear weapon to compliment land-based theater nuclear missiles and bombs.

The TLAM-N then remained in land-based storage until the Obama Administration 2010 Nuclear Posture Review called for their retirement or dismantling.

American arms control advocates waged a bitter fight to get rid of the TLAM-N even though it was not deployed, and immediately opposed the Trump Administration’s intention to revive it as the SLCM-N.

The 2020 Democrat Party platform stated, “The Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.”

Then this past March, the Biden Administration issued its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which states, “We will take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, while ensuring our strategic deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective and that our extended deterrence commitments to our allies remain strong and credible.”

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