Rep. Turner Falsely Claims That Russia Will Not Reduce Nuclear Weapons ‘At All’ Under New START

A powerful member of the House Armed Services Committee spread false accusations against President Obama’s nuclear weapons reduction policy, claiming on a conservative radio show yesterday that no other countries in the world would join the United States in reducing their nuclear arsenal.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) made the allegation while appearing on Secure Freedom Radio hosted by Frank Gaffney, one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes profiled in the Center for American Progress report Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.

Gaffney asked Turner if the real reason President Obama wanted to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world is because “this is a radical ideologue at work?” Turner agreed, going on to declare that during Obama’s tenure, the United States would be the “only country” that would reduce its nuclear arsenal. He concluded by dissembling about the New START treaty, an agreement between the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons, by claiming that Russia would “not [be] required to lower their number at all”:

GAFFNEY: We have a president who is genuinely a radical ideologue when it comes to these things. […] Is it not a better explanation that in fact it is the same thing we see so dramatically at work with the idea that we might reduce our nuclear arsenal to the level of Pakistan’s that really this is a radical ideologue at work?

TURNER: Right. And this is not about the budget. We’re not going to see significant savings from this. […] It’s interesting, the president in Prague made a speech that was supposed to be a cornerstone of his presidency, where he called for a world without nuclear weapons and the road to zero. In his presidency, he will only have achieved eliminating our nuclear weapons. If you put a scoreboard on the wall, and you put the countries that have nuclear weapons or are pursuing nuclear weapons, and you start with the Obama presidency and the numbers of inventory they had, and then you get to his reelection campaign and put the numbers they have at the end, the only country on that board that’s going to have a lower number is the United States. In START, Russia was not required to lower their number at all.

Listen to it:

During the New START ratification debate back in 2010, Republicans regularly tried to float this false claim that the treaty wouldn’t force Russia to reduce its nuclear weapons. As the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation wrote, “The treaty enhances U.S. security by verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.” And the State Department fact sheet on the treaty notes that the limit for deployed warheads for both countries “is 74 percent lower than the limit of the 1991 START Treaty and 30 percent lower than the upper deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.”

One expert called claims that Russia won’t have to limit its nukes “ridiculous.” “That’s the whole purpose of the treaty, to reduce the number of warheads,” said Robert Norris of the National Resources Defense Council.

The Obama administration is now reportedly considering reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal further and Republicans, like Turner, are doing anything they can to prevent it, even if it includes making claims about America’s treaty obligations and nuclear security that have no basis in reality. But as CAP’s Lawrence Korb and Alex Rothman noted this week, “the Pentagon’s own strategic thinkers have noted that the strategic landscape has changed and that the U.S.’s Cold War-sized arsenal may exceed the country’s current needs.”