US, Russia to continue arms control cooperation
AFP – March 12, 2014
With US-Russia ties being strained in recent weeks by the developing crisis in Ukraine, a US official has asserted that the two countries will continue to work together on arms control because it is in each country’s best interest to do so. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Arms Control, stated that, “We see no reason that tensions that exist over Ukraine should in any way obstruct the path towards fulfilling the commitments that we have made with the Russians to reduce nuclear weapons on both sides.” With a referendum on Crimean independence coming up this weekend, cooperation on arms control may be tested even further.
John McCain calls for reconsideration of Bush-era missile defense plan for Europe
Wanda Carruthers, Newsmax – March 10, 2014
In response to the Russian invasion of Crimea, Senator John McCain has advocated that the US bring back a Bush-era plan for missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. The Obama administration canceled that plan, which would have relied on ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic, in favor of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, a plan that would eventually see ship-based Standard Missile 3 interceptors placed in the Mediterranean and ground-based radar and interceptors stationed at bases in Poland and Romania later. McCain, however, does not see any military option for the United States in Crimea, and the Czech president believes the Bush-era missile defense plan would be “ineffective”.
Senate GOP may link Ukraine aid to Iran sanctions
Julian Pecquet, Al-Monitor – March 11, 2014
Some Republicans in the Senate have proposed adding the already failed Iran sanctions bill to a piece of legislation that would approve $1 billion in aid to Ukraine. The GOP is split on the tactic, however, with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticizing such proposals and stating that attaching Iran sanctions to the bill would give people reason to vote against the high-priority aid to Ukraine. There does not appear to be enough support to add the sanctions to the Ukraine aid bill, but many prominent Republicans still support the tactic of attaching Iran sanctions to every piece of legislation that makes its way through the Senate.
Congress may fund submarine replacement program outside of normal shipbuilding budget
Lee Hudson and Olga Belogolova, Inside Defense – March 7, 2014
The Navy has said that replacing the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, a program that is set to cost $90 billion over the next couple decades as new nuclear-capable submarines are designed, built, and operated, would cut significantly into its regular ship-building budget. Democrat and Republican Congressmen have both called for the replacement program, SSBN(X), to be funded outside of the normal ship-building budget. The program is already set to be funded to the tune of $1.2 billion in the 2015 fiscal year.