Joe Lieberman (I-CT), once a reliable vote in favor of nuclear arms reduction efforts, has now bought into the right-wing myth that our nuclear arsenal is deteriorating and that the U.S. needs to build new nuclear weapons. Lieberman on Fox News Sunday said he is “real hesitant” to vote for a New START treaty unless the US effectively builds new nuclear weapons:
LIEBERMAN: Anytime we are working on something with our old Cold War enemy, Russia, cooperatively, it’s a good sign. Anything we can do to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world is a positive development. But in my opinion as we reduce the number of nuclear warheads… we have to make darn sure that are nuclear warheads are capable and modern and a lot of them are decades old. So I feel very strongly that I am going to be real hesitant to vote for this treaty unless we have a commitment from the Administration that they are prepared to modernize our nuclear stockpile.
In a demonstration of just how seriously Lieberman is taking these issues, as Chris Wallace shifted the conversation — noting that the treaty would need 9 Republican votes instead of 8 since “Lieberman was gone” — Lieberman audibly chuckled.
"I don't believe that there will be 67 votes to ratify the START treaty unless the administration does two things," Liberman said on "Fox News Sunday." "First, commit to modernize our nuclear stockpile so as we have less nuclear weapons we know they're capable, if, God forbid, we need them; and secondly, to make absolutely clear that some of the statements by Russian President Medvedev at the signing in Prague that seem to suggest that if we continue to build the ballistic missile defense in Europe that they may pull out of this treaty -- they're just unacceptable to us.
"We need that defense to protect our allies and ourselves from Iran," Lieberman said.
President Barack Obama backed away from the controversial missile shield, a plan launched under President George W. Bush, at the beginning of his term, earning kudos from Russia but disappointment from Poland and the Czech Republic.
Lieberman stressed that as stockpiles are slashed, "we have to make darn sure that our nuclear warheads are capable, are modern. And a lot of them are decades old."
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) about the chances of getting nine Republican votes need in the Senate to ratify the treaty.
That depends on the administration's answers to the concerns posed by those like Lieberman, Alexander said.