: Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week it is in the United States’ best interest to wait as long as possible before implementing the nuclear force structure changes that would be necessary under the New START arms control agreement with Russia. Both Russia and the US have seven years from the agreement’s entry into force to comply with the ceilings placed on deployed nuclear warheads (1,550), overall strategic delivery vehicles (800), and strategic delivery vehicles in deployed status (700). “Frankly I see no reason for us to make final decisions . . . until we have a better sense of strategic developments with Russia and with other countries as well,” Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a June 17 hearing on New START. “The uniformed leadership feels very strongly about not making those decisions before they are due,” added Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.