tv Rep. Mike Turner Discusses Nuclear Arsenal Deterrence CSPAN July 7, 2021 4:26pm-5:09pm EDT
about how things are working. thank you very much. all the best. >> c-span shop.org -- cs panshop.org is c-span's online score -- store. you will support our nonprofit operations and you can still order the congressional directory with contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. go to cspanshop.org. >> representative mike turner spoke about the militaries missile defense and nuclear deterrence at -- an event hosted by the hudson institute. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> congressman turner is a
ranking member of a subcommittee of the house armed services committee which has jurisdiction of our civil defense programs and our nuclear weapons. we will be discussing those today. thank you so much for joining us today. mr. turner: i appreciate your expertise and your contribution to the dialogue of policy. your legacy of work on capitol hill remains and we appreciate that you continue to be engaged. not only do the hudson institute convene our ability to come together and have dialogue and be of thought community, academic community, capitol hill policymakers in the administration. they are a great contributor to the substance we need when we take up a debate. you can look to the hudson institute for sources. substantive information can guide you through the debate and
the discussion of what is congress doing? what other current events and what is happening on these topics? host: thank you so much. we appreciate that at hudson. i am going to set the table for the context we find ourselves in today and take off our conversation. we are now in an era of competent -- major power competition, not just with one, with china and the russian federation. we have the persistent problem of rogue actors, nuclear north korea, and iran on the brink of having nuclear weapons capability and persistent problems of the united states in the new -- middle east and as proliferators. that has changed iran and north korea. we have the problem of global proliferation of missile technology, missiles becoming increasingly difficult to detect
and to intercept. at the same time, united states is seeking to develop a missile defense architecture that meets the needs of the threats for today and of our national defense priorities. with that, i'm going to start with the missile defense topic and we will move on from there. we do not have the biden administration's missile defense review policy document. it is still too early but we have the budget numbers. if you could tell us about where you think the status of missile defense in the biden administration is and you think just some things to be encouraged and concerned about. mr. turner: as you said, setting the table for this issue, is we are receiving budgetary numbers from the bided administration that are flatlining. right now, we are in an area
where we need to be investing in modernization across all positions. we had the issue of afghanistan, iraq, and sequestration that significantly shifted our priorities and even with sequestration, it compromised our readiness and put off the modernization that was necessary with our current systems. we are in a situation where our adversaries are taking advantage of that and we are looking at their technologies that could be leapfrogged out of the united states technologies. we cannot plot a course from where we were and reengage on our modernization that we had planned. giving us flatlining budgets does not give us the ability to jump ahead to the kind of technology. the modernization has not been done. we are at a critical path for missile defense and nuclear modernization.
the redesigned vehicle had to be scrapped. it is a travesty and we are back with the agency looking to the next generation. we are hoping, at the end of this, to be able to place on that after supper -- interceptor and continue to fill the need we have to be able to look to intercepting ballistic missiles. that is an expense. we are not just talking about maintenance. we are talking about development and what is necessary to accomplish these types of modernizations. those take monies and funds. when we look to our adversaries are doing, we have to be concerned about the leapfrogged technology. russia is fielded. the hyper septic -- hyper set -- hypersonic technology, we do not have in place what is necessary to ensure that on both sides we
can think we are advancing our ability to bed -- defend against these weapons and we are not building them ourselves. those variables are ones to avoid. we have weapon systems that are adversaries are deploying at a high price and they cannot be not -- not be accomplished. ms. heinrich: for our viewers, they $.9 billion, the same number as the missile defense agency budget in 2008, when i was working these issues for a congresswoman -- $8.9 billion --the top line hasn't changed. here we are dealing with major powers and trying to adapt our missile defense systems in a regional context and for our homeland. you talked about the dock --
debacle of our ke and how we are pursuing -- rke and how we are pursuing our next-generation interceptors. what do you think about the priority of sustaining the ground-based defense system to the next generation interceptor? it is going to go into that system and it is going to complement the gbi's in the ground. are you satisfied with what you are seeing about the prioritization of the program as you pursue ndi or do you see a conflict there or is it not sustainable with budget numbers? mr. turner: the concern goes to the issue you said when you're laying out your opening of the proliferation of missiles and missile technology by our adversaries. and really from all powers around the world. there should be an increased focus on missile defense, not just for responding to icbms at the ground-based.
even looking to how we might be able to incorporate our partnership we have with israel and the development of iron dome , their aero, the dome itself has had such a great impact on missile defense policy and missile defense technology. we should be looking at ways to implement that technology in addition to -- other technology to assist ourselves to respond to this proliferation of the missile threat. what has happened in israel has helped greatly the debate as you know from capitol hill. we used to deal with policy issues of the arguments of missile defense. it is provocative. what israel has shown by their deployment of the iron dome is it is not provocative. it is defensive and it is the escalatory as they have used the
iron dome that has given them time and space to measure the response as opposed to if they did not have that technology. it is cost effective because the amount of damage and loss-of-life that is prevented is at this cost. it works unbelievably. is almost at the point where it is not implementing an active missile defense system or policy is almost immoral because you are saying you are into leave -- going to leave your critical capabilities and infrastructure at risk. ms. heinrich: that is a great point, especially about the culture of these events and how it's an unfortunate picture we have to see on the receiving end of aggression. that is why the palestinians did that as well because of their ability to be restrained in that
way. that brings me to another point. the bided administration authorized --biden administration authorized defensive attacks against iranian proxies iraq and syria. it comes on the heels of the media reporting -- and maybe you have already had briefings -- but there is the media reporting that the biden is going to be withdrawing the missile defense systems from the middle east. the pretext is we are shifting to the indo pacific theater and we cannot afford to have patriot systems and missile defense units that we have deployed throughout the middle east. what do you make of that? is that smart policy and you think that makes sense? mr. turner: it underscores the problem we have with the lack of missile defense assets.
these decisions being made are not to the advantage of our troops door to our deployed facilities -- or to our deployed facilities. what we have seen before is a way to get advance warning so we can relocate truths, shelter-in-place, and prevent casualties. we should be able to deploy the defense technology we know works in ways that would protect our servicemembers and women. what we are seeing here is not just the delivery systems themselves but that we need to invest in more missiles so that we have the ability and we don't have a concern that a barrage would leave us at a disadvantage. this is part of the balance we need. it is not the president's budget. having the position of missiles
to be able to think of taking the aegis system, discussions as to where else it would be help for the helpful for aegis to be located, producing missiles, israel shows us every time they are under attack. these missiles are priceless. ms. heinrich: it is especially. the point you made about how if we are going to have these troops deployed there, providing the important work they are doing, they shouldn't have -- should have the missile defenses they need so they are not vulnerable. the simple defense systems in the case of saudi arabia, we are serving deterrence purposes as well. in my mind, we are providing a pretty good bang for our block for the mission they are
providing -- buck so we can focus on other critical theaters. ms. heinrich: that is a good point. i want to underscore that pure missile defense also has a deterrent effect. if an adversary does not believe or doesn't have high confidence that a missile that is shot will hit its target, they will have e xposed themselves. they have nefarious intent and we will know the location from where the missile was coming from. they will have been escalatory. certainly, missile defense is not our only assets we look to. following missile defense would be kinetic ordinance. take out of whatever threat we had to arise to. ms. heinrich: yeah. it is certainly an offense defense mix for an active
defense. the previous administration, in their missile defense review, they tried to get some of these problems we laid out. you mentioned the debacle that happened during the previous administration. there was other program that didn't come to fruition. the gdi that president trump wanted deployed were not deployed because of the debacle of the rkd program and a lisa biden administration with all kinds of directions to take. there is some rumors at this point that the biden administration might be focusing on some of these more advanced programs for this notion of something to trade for arms control with the russians. you see in scholarships, there is pressure to include missile
defense in arms control treaties with russia. what is your view of that and do you share a concern that it going to be -- among the more advanced programs could be on the table for negotiation? mr. turner: i think there needs to be a redline on risk -- missile defense being part of an arms-control negotiation. russia has mentioned this before. let's loosely translate with the needs. russia says i don't want you to have missile defense because i want it to be easier to bomb you. i don't know how that can be influential to anybody. anybody can be so persuaded by that. what we should look at, especially with russia, with moscow being protected by a missile defense system, what we need to look at our threatening systems that russia is now deploying, the exotics, as people call them. they have not merely modernized their systems.
they have deployed weapons like nobody has seen before. sky fall, a nuclear missile that can order -- orbit the earth. the hypersonic they have deployed. the violations of the imf treaty which ended up deploying new missiles with new capabilities. we are seeing more additional developments by russia. weapon systems that are capable that show an intent that is beyond just deterrence. that is what you have to be concerned with and certainly, that should bring us back to the negotiating table with them. the other thing we have to make certain, which you write, is our modernization of our nuclear program is for us to be able to keep the status quo. both our infrastructure. just to be capable of being nuclear weapons-producing. our missile systems, to make
sure they are capable. and then, of course, looking to modernization of our warheads. no one will enter into arms-control negotiations with us if we are on our own, constraining our own capabilities for production or deploying weapons and weapon systems. russia will be jumping ahead of us in capabilities and we will slip behind in that is not how you get to the bargaining table. ms. heinrich: that gets me thinking, too, because major power competition not just with russia but with china, as well, and i just think about how bad -- fast things have happened. i was rereading the obama nuclear policy, which says russia is no longer an adversary and basically that our competition is a thing of the past and our major concerns our nuclear weapons. here we are in 2021, where we are trying to take on these two
great powers and deter both of them and be prepared to win in the event that deterrence breaks down. we are talking about arms-control. we don't just have russia anymore. we have china, as well. there has been a lot of talk about the development of china's nuclear programs. would you mind talking to us about that? there is some misunderstanding. it is not just the number of nuclear weapons. how should we think about china in the context of arms-control agreements and how we should think about not just russia but china? mr. turner: if you look at russia in crimea, there weapon systems were a deterrent. not just deterring others from using nuclear weapons or engaging in anything. they were deterrent to restraining russia's systems. china, by expanding their nuclear weapons, are expanding it beyond the issue of deterring you from using nuclear weapons
or you from attacking my nation itself. you get to the point where both speed, proliferation, number --you begin to wonder whether or not china will be using this as a pillar of its strength as it threatens its neighbors. they are vastly expanding their weapons at all levels and implementing a triad that did not have before. dirt --their increase of weapons themselves show they are looking for parity with russia and the united states. that makes the world more dangerous because as we know, china has looked in the south china sea. we are seeing what is happening in conch on. -- hong kong. the threat continues to taiwan. china may use this and you begin to be concerned that china may do it as a foundational strength
to threaten their neighbors in ways we cannot account for. ms. heinrich: i think, another -- you mentioned that the number of different kinds of delivery systems they have, as well, that contributes to how robust their nuclear weapons arsenal is and you look at ours. we have a nuclear triad. we have different kinds of delivery systems and china and russia have different ways and means of delivering nuclear weapons. i want to get thrown nuclear modernization program. we are at a point where we get a modernization -- we have to modernize everything and we continue to hear there isn't anything we can get by. the bill has, and we need multiple administrations, democratic and republican, to hold the line and continue modernization. multiple congresses. we need to be able to get this done. you recently had an exchange in
the house armed services community -- committee with the secretary -- acting secretary of the navy were he had a directive to unilaterally defined something- -- defund something the trump administration put to adapt to the threats today. based on your discussions with other dod officials, do you think there is sufficient report for that program and do you have an update on that? what is the context we should continue to think about the systems and i know we are getting ahead here. we don't have a nuclear posture due to the bided administration but the landscape has not improved since this weapon was deemed necessary. ms. heinrich: let's review the exchange. the acting secretary of the navy -- let's put emphasis on the word acting because he should be
exercising major policy decisions -- issued a memorandum that instructed staff instructing the budget for 2023 to defund this missile. it is currently funded in this budget in 2022 because of president biden's submission. he claimed to have not spoken to anybody on his own and decided that this was the weapon system that was going to continue. everyone who looks at russia and china from any chain of command and our needs for flexible deterrence says this is a weapon that is needed for what russia is doing, for its imf treaty violations, the fact that we have large nuclear weapons and nobody is deterred to assume we would in any action have to have a large response or close to a smaller response. the number of reasons this
missile is necessary have been verified and well documented and endorsed throughout the pentagon. the acting secretary, in the statement --he didn't speak to anyone --the secretary of defense and chief of staff have said they were not involved in decision-making. biden was on his way to be prudent to have their so-called summit. on his agenda was arms-control and we have the acting secretary of the navy telling russia we are not going to feel this. we will defund it. it undermined the president. the acting secretary admitted his actions had undermined the president of the united states. we have this undercurrent of policy in could dod that we always have to overcome and is looking for unilateral disarmament of the united states. we have a missile here with the
capability we need and this desire for arms control and it doesn't satisfy either. it would cancel a needed capability and unilaterally concede and get nothing for the russians or china in any c oncessions in their systems. that undercurrent of policy at dod has to be brought forward. all of those would have been -- direct the acting secretary and the navy to extend this direction. i hope he does that because it sends the wrong message. what is important also is if you look at all the systems we have come up -- have, you cannot get anyone to agree to have negotiations with the power that
is continually underlining -- undermining his own programs and failing to accomplish them and unilaterally disarming itself. we have to make certain we ensure the security of the nuclear prospects. ms. heinrich: in other words, it is not that you are not making an argument against discussions with the russians. it is this idea of not fully modernizing our nuclear force before we can begin doing that and taking entire categories of missile systems, they would disapprove of. they would want us to get rid of. we would do that preemptively before we give anything in return. from the russians. i thought that was a very interesting exchange on the point of will the acting secretary of the navy be able to have a reason to choose that nuclear weapon system over any other category? i look forward to paying
attention to the updates as the biden administration plows through their nuclear posture. the congress has mandated bipartisan agreement on a two-site solution to produce plutonium so that we can continue to have an active, credible, nuclear enterprise, that we have a credible deterrent for. we have not done that. we do not currently produce enough -- we do not produce plutonium at that scale at all. some of the criticisms are despite the bipartisan support, the department of energy's agreement that it is prudent to
have this and it cannot be done at this rate and it is not feasible and we do not have enough money. what would you say to those criticisms? mr. turner: first of all, we have to maintain being a nuclear weapons producing state. two produced nuclear weapons. we can't get to the bargain table if we are not capable of doing that and all of our adversaries are capable of doing with it -- doing it. you may be the only one that does not have the capability for full-scale production of nuclear weapons. if you make one and put it in the ground, you have one forever. the passage of time and weather and conditions certainly degrade that capability. it has to be strategically placed. the two sites are very important because if you have something happen to want, and it was your
soul production site, you completely lose that capability. going back to where we are now, substantial ability to produce. the number is what is currently charted for what we need for modernizing our current nuclear weapons stockpil ande what is projected to be. again, if we do not have the ability, no one is going to come to the bargaining table with this and say, we are going to negotiate with you even though we have no ability to produce. i think that is important. that is the advancement of knowledge and what we did 50 years ago may not --we're doing it now and learning the process, we look -- three learning new personnel -- re-learning new personnel and new engineering. we may learn things that make the stockpile safer and ensure we have less risk overall.
that advancement of knowledge is incredibly important. acknowledge that otherwise, we could lose. ms. heinrich: the criticism about -- all of that has been outlined repeatedly and again, it is across administrations. the obama administration began working on this, committing to nuclear modernization. the end of the administration -- they committed to having a nuclear modernization program and you have heard some commitments from the defense secretary austin and kat hicks has said we need to have a credible nuclear deterrent and this is part of it. every time they say that, it seems like there is new cost estimates that come out, especially on the nsa, and you have new ballooning costs over
time. you've been conducting oversight for the military budgets for eight years. what is it about the nnsa's budgetary practices that costs time and cost estimates to be inaccurate early in the process and become more accurate and sometimes get some people not incline dto support modernization shock when the new numbers come out? mr. turner: there are two aspects. one is congress. we keep changing our policy. we won -- run at one direction intel the nsa to go this way and then go to the other direction. the increased costs associated with starts and stops and incomplete support. dear learning this as we go through the production and the renovation and establishment of these facilities is the nsa had been working with working
members rather than truck -- contracting numbers. -- members. the nsa would take this as a call at -- secure cost estimate. the sticker shock was quite a shock to find that it gives numbers that we think are the actual numbers in the nsa is saying no. we're going to try to get rid of that. we are to try to strengthen that nnsa's system of what is required when they provide working numbers to make an actual estimate. we will have conversations with them as to what they need to do that work, the pen and paper work early, so we can get more accurate numbers. ms. heinrich: and then, of course, you know the high watermark for the process and the modernization is 6-7% of national defense spending.
these numbers are big but we are talking about our nuclear deterrence. it is to my mind, whenever i hear sticker shock, is relative to what we were expecting. we should be able to find. it leads me to -- i want to talk about the nature of the bipartisan sentiment on these issues. congress disagrees about lots of things right now. there is always disagreement between the two parties on spending and spending priorities. what if -- is your sense about the bipartisan support or disagreement on nuclear modernization in particular? do you think there's going to be support in moving forward and doing what is necessary to get
us over the line for another two years? mr. turner: both administrations continued funding for nuclear modernization. we had to fight like hell for what was being allocated. overall, the funding is an indication of the need for modernization. it has been recognized by both administrations. the first budget of this administration that came over in 10 years got recognition for the need for modernization. now comes the issue of how the money is allocated and how sufficient will the amount of money appropriated annually be? i think we will continue to have, in the armed services committee and on the house floor, opposition to the united states nuclear modernization. there are those who will vote for an amendment that would result in an unilateral disarmament of the united states and -- in weapons systems.
you see this uptake in violence after trying to have this new deal, what is your sense of where congress is or maybe the political stomach for pursuing this again and then something i have long tracks on this issue is this idea that missiles have got to be included in any conversation because they do go hand in glove. >> as we know, the iranian deal was technically flawed. they are very -- there are very technical provisions of the bill that are necessary and are limited in time. it did not have an unlimited inspection regime as it was trout -- as it was touted and
missiles were not included and as they pursue missile technology, they can certainly added later and it will catch up and it certainly shows intent. an icbm is not for any conventional livery system. -- weapon delivery system. fourth is the malign activities and that was a big issue for the trump administration. they were in the deal and continue to attack their neighbors for activity supporting terrorism. we had already heard from iran that they do not intend to include missiles in this deal. they said it is a nonstarter but that needs to be an equal one along with the fact that the provisions of the agreement itself should have no expiration. >> it is the development of
missile programs early on. they keep going over the years and develop the ability to deliver the nuclear capabilities. you mentioned their space launch program and can that technology be applied? recently in the last couple of years, they have made improvements that have been used for an icbm capability. do you think that with the development of iranians moving forward on the icbm front even if they don't have any possibility yet, are you comfortable with where we are on
u.s. homeland defense in particular? would you like to see a greater emphasis on homeland defense versus regional, or do you think that those two pots are in the right balance? >> i also did legislation to establish an east coast missile defense site based on the fact the obama administration had come forward with their approach which had a system that would be deployed for protecting the homeland. they moved to establish the east coast missile defense site. currently, the policy of dod is that it will not reseed until threat is gone.
i concern is that it takes so long to develop missiles and valid and interceptor that if you look at the breakout time for iran, if we don't get started, iran can achieve an ability to threaten the homeland before we have the ability to defend. he gives along with it the ability to shoot twice and to not have to go along the entire space. that is a very important first step. >> that's right. if you have greater defense capability and can take out the teeth of that coercive ability a country will have and the ability to threaten you with a nuclear icbm. congressman, thank you for taking the time with us today to talk about everything that is going on inside were portfolio
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