September 12, 2017

Senators Warren and Lee Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Preventing Development of Nuclear-Capable Intermediate-Range Missile

Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced legislation that would prevent authorization of funding for the research and development of a new intermediate-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead until the Department of Defense certifies that such a system is needed.

As signatories of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, both the United States and Russia are prohibited from testing and deploying this uniquely destabilizing weaponry.  In recent years Russia has violated the INF Treaty by deploying a limited number of noncompliant missiles. Section 1635 of the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would set the United States on the road to withdrawal from the INF treaty, by authorizing the Department of Defense (DOD) to begin research and development of its own nuclear-capable intermediate-range missile.

The Upholding America's Nuclear Commitments Act of 2017 would prohibit funding for this program until such time as the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State report to Congress their assessment of the capability gaps posed by Russia's missile program, whether a new intermediate-range missile is the appropriate response to such a threat, the timeline and costs for creating and deploying a new system, and the willingness of American allies to support such a response to Russia's failure to comply with the INF Treaty.

"We need to be tough and strong in the face of Russian provocation, but we also need to be smart. Authorizing research and development of a new intermediate-range missile would cost American taxpayers millions of dollars, while laying the groundwork for our withdrawal from a vital treaty that has ensured global security for three decades," said Senator Warren. "We cannot risk a new round of nuclear escalation without seriously studying the potential impacts of developing these dangerous weapons."

"If we don't like something an adversary has done, we must address that by appropriate means - means justified and supported by the American people," Senator Lee said. "This legislation would set the precedent that the US should not immediately react to an adversary's treaty violation by violating the same treaty ourselves. That's not how working in good faith in the international community is done."