Ponder the highlights of the Nuclear Posture Review, and you can't help but wonder: is there all that much that Republicans can complain about? Obama embraces the concept of missile defense as a deterrent against aggression in Europe (albeit as a way of reducing the reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent); his budget spends billions to modernize the nuclear stockpile; he did not significantly change America's so-called "declaratory policy" about when it will use nukes, and he resisted pressure from his left to make any bold unilateral concessions.
During the presidential campaign, Senators McCain and Obama were of one mind on nuclear policy: both supported a START follow-on treaty with Russia, and both supported Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
Why does McCain matter? He jointly issued a statement with the Senate's hawkiest nuclear hawk, Sen. Jon Kyl, that tries to find objections to Obama's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
One by one, here is what McCain and Kyl have to say:
First, we are concerned about how the NPR will affect the nuclear modernization program that is required by law at the time the START follow-on agreement is submitted to the Senate. This plan must bring our nuclear weapons complex, our warheads, and our nuclear weapons delivery systems up to 21st century standards. The NPR appears to make it more difficult to use the 'spectrum of options' (i.e., refurbishment, reuse, and replacement) recommended by the Perry-Schlesinger Commission to enhance the reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. We expect the Administration will not take any option off the table to ensure the military and the directors of the national laboratories are able to maintain the safety, security and reliability of the current stockpile. We will evaluate this carefully in the coming weeks, including when we see the modernization plan required by law at the time the START follow-on treaty is submitted to the Senate.
Actually, the Obama NPR does the opposite. Even though Obama has declared the so-called "Reliable Replacement Warhead" program dead, his NPR resurrects it as an option. Each weapons system and warhead will be evaluated individually and a solution that draws from one of the three options -- refurbishment, reuse, or replacement -- will be utilized.