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Pentagon forces out  Leonor Tomero, a top official with moderate views (they can’t have that!)

Pentagon hawks circle Biden’s nuclear policy, Politico, By ALEXANDER WARD 09/23/2021 With help from Daniel Lippman   The forced dismissal of a top Pentagon nuclear official could mean curtains for President JOE BIDEN’s nuclear agenda.

Biden installed national security officials intent on negotiating new arms control treaties and curtailing nuclear weapons spending. One of them was LEONOR TOMERO, a leading voice for nuclear restraint on Capitol Hill and in the think tank community, who was appointed to oversee the Nuclear Posture Review that will set the administration’s nuclear weapons policy and strategy.

But officials with more traditional views on nuclear weapons, who promote a more hawkish nuclear agenda to include modernizing the land, sea and airborne legs of America’s nuclear arsenal, did not take kindly to Tomero’s progressive ideology, 11 current and former defense officials, as well as others with insight into the debate, told our own LARA SELIGMAN and BRYAN BENDER (with an assist from your host).

“Her appointment was something that people were immediately resistant to,” JEFFREY LEWIS, a professor and nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies and host of the podcast Arms Control Wonk, told POLITICO. “People with very traditional views of nuclear weapons policy did not want someone in charge of the Nuclear Posture Review who might think differently about those issues.”

The Defense Department insists Tomero was nothing more than a casualty of a reorganization, leaving no space for her as her duties were moving to another office……….

Experts now worry that her removal signals the Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, will not fully consider alternative options for maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent that might be less costly or evaluate new ways to carry out nuclear strategy.

“The decision to fire Leonor suggests to me that the first draft of NPR is going to be a continuation of the line of thinking we saw in the Trump administration’s NPR,” Lewis said. “They have put themselves on the course that is a first draft that is 180 degrees to what Biden said on the campaign trail.”

If that’s the case, one staffing change over at DoD might be the death knell for Biden’s hopes of changing U.S. nuclear policy for the foreseeable future.

The United States is currently planning to upgrade the nuclear force to the tune of $634 billion over the next decade, according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Read Seligman and Bender’s full story here.

September 25, 2021 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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