President Obama's nominee to lead U.S. nuclear force operations in wartime on Tuesday repeated recent administration assurances that the United States would pursue further nuclear stockpile curbs only as part of a bilateral deal with Russia, CQ Roll Call reported.
"My advice would be that we negotiate a bilateral agreement that also has verifiable components to it, so that we can ensure that the said reduction would work," Adm. Cecil Haney said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel later in the day voted to approve the four-star flag officer's nomination and pass it to the Senate floor.
Haney, who would succeed Gen. Robert Kehler as head of U.S. Strategic Command, indicated that he would oppose a unilateral force reduction, the publication reported.
Obama called in June for force cuts "negotiated" with Moscow, without explicitly saying they should take place under a formal treaty. A number of Republicans have asserted that by laying out in the Berlin speech a new requirement for one-third fewer warheads than allowed by a current U.S.-Russian agreement, the White House could be implying that Washington would make the additional reductions even Moscow did not match them.
The New START pact already requires Russia and the United States by 2018 to cap its stockpile of fielded warheads at 1,550. The sides must also reduce their count of fielded missiles and bombers to 700, with an additional 100 delivery vehicles allowed in reserve.