Bush asks Congress fund nuclear arsenal revamp

WASHINGTON - The White House wants Congress to fund US nuclear missile updates to dissuade possible attacks from countries such as Iran and North Korea, according to a government report released Wednesday.

"Credible US nuclear capabilities and our security commitment to allies remain an indispensable part of deterrence and an important element in our effort to limit proliferation," said the report prepared by the Departments of Energy, Defense and State.

"The future security environment is very uncertain, and some trends are not favorable," it said, pointing to North Korea and Iran as countries whose nuclear programs "underscore the importance of US security guarantees."

The document sent to Congress, titled National Security and Nuclear Weapons: Maintaining Deterrence in the 21st Century, recalls that in 2001, President George W. Bush ordered reduced by 2012 the number of strategic nuclear weapons from 6,000 to between 2,200 and 1,700.

The Bush administration estimates that that number of nuclear weapons, while smaller than the Cold War arsenal, is sufficient, but says that the weapons must be modernized.

"The United States needs to invest in the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.

"The sooner Congress authorizes and funds transformative replacement programs ... the sooner the United States and its allies can realize the benefits this approach holds for maintaining a credible and effective deterrent with the lowest possible level of nuclear weapons," it said.

07/25/2007 19:01 GMT

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