Hagel emphasizes importance of nuclear deterrent

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel emphasized the need for the U.S. to retain a nuclear deterrent while also working to reduce its nuclear arsenal in a speech delivered at the University of Nebraska-Omaha on June 19. Hagel, a UNO alum and former two-term senator from Nebraska, made his statements following a high-profile speech given by President Obama in Berlin on the same day, in which the President announced the U.S. would be working with Russia to cut the number of deployed nuclear weapons by up to one-third of those allowed under the New START treaty. Hagel gave his “strong support” for the plan, which he noted also has received the support of US Strategic Command boss Gen. Robert Kehler and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while also emphasizing the need to continue investing in the nuclear enterprise. “As we pursue these reductions, let me emphasize three things…that will not change. First, the US will maintain a ready and credible deterrent,” said Hagel. “Second, we will retain a triad of bombers, ICBMs, and ballistic missile submarines. Third, we will make sure that our nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, ready, and effective.” Hagel mentioned one of his reasons for coming to Omaha was to meet with Kehler to discuss how best to achieve those objectives.