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Rep. Gabbard Introduces Legislation to Prevent Arms Race With Russia

February 15, 2019, 8:21 AM HST (Updated February 15, 2019, 8:25 AM)
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard led a press conference on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Courtesy photo.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) led a press conference on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, urging support for the INF Treaty Compliance Act (H.R. 1249) that would prevent the U.S. from sparking an arms race between with Russia and escalating the new Cold War.

The legislation would prohibit the use of any taxpayer dollars for weapons that violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, despite President Donald Trump’s planned withdrawal.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. McGovern, Omar, and Pocan, and is supported by Win Without War, Union of Concerned Scientists, Ploughshares Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Beyond the Bomb, Global Zero and NuclearWakeUpCall.

“We face a greater risk of nuclear catastrophe now than ever before in history. The threat of nuclear war is real,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. “President Trump’s reckless decision to pull out of the INF Treaty heightens this threat by exacerbating the new Cold War, sparking a new arms race between the United States and Russia, and bringing us ever closer to a nuclear holocaust. President Trump’s actions make the American people and our country less safe, while wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for the new arms race and nuclear weapons—dollars that should be used to address the needs of our people and communities right here at home. My legislation will uphold the INF Treaty, prevent an escalation of the new Cold War and new arms race, and protect taxpayer dollars. Rather than scrapping the INF Treaty, we should be working to strengthen and expand it, and continue pursuing a path toward security and peace.”

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Rep. Gabbard’s full remarks can be found below.

Erica Fein, Advocacy Director, Win Without War, said: “The INF Treaty Compliance Act of 2019 is the exact right response to President Trump’s dangerous withdrawal from the landmark INF Treaty. Congress should not be rewarding Trump’s actions by helping him spark an arms race; it should be restraining him at every turn. When it comes to nuclear weapons, this president has shown a callous disregard for the decades of work that has been done to put the world on a safer path. We must block Trump’s desire to build new nuclear weapons, including conventional and nuclear missiles that have been prohibited for over 30 years, and pass Rep. Gabbard’s important bill.”

Paul Kawika Martin, senior director, Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action, said: “This White House loves to assassinate agreements that make Americans safer: the successful Iran nuclear agreement, the Paris climate agreement and now the INF Treaty. Peace Action members proudly joined with many others to push for the INF Treaty because it removed an extra dangerous class of nuclear weapons. This legislation from Reps. Gabbard, Omar and McGovern will keep the U.S. out of a dangerous arms race that taxpayers cannot afford.”

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Tom Collina, director of policy, Ploughshares Fund, said: “Congress may not be able to prevent President Trump from withdrawing from INF, but it can stop him from producing missiles prohibited by the treaty. This legislation would do that, and thereby help stop President Trump from starting a new nuclear arms race. Such a race cannot be won, and will only waste billions of dollars and possibly millions of lives. Ploughshares Fund thanks Representative Gabbard for her leadership on this crucial issue.”

Jeff Carter, executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said: “Withdrawing from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty would turn back the clock to a dangerous era that put the United States and Russia on the brink of nuclear war. This ill-advised move could fuel a new arms race, or worse. Physicians for Social Responsibility endorses Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s INF Treaty Compliance Act of 2019 because Americans’ health and safety, and our national interests, depend on preventing the possibility of nuclear conflict.”

Cecili Thompson Williams, director, Beyond the Bomb, said: “The U.S. should be exhausting all options that allow for the elimination of Russia’s alleged violations, or it risks exacerbating the very problem of noncompliance it’s highlighting. With no agreement between the two countries, both will call for expanding their nuclear arsenals as the replacement measure for keeping the other in check. Wading into a new nuclear arms race is a regressive and short-sighted tactic by Trump, and a warning signal for nuclear nonproliferation efforts. As the US continues to increase their nuclear arsenal and destroy international agreements, whether it’s the INF, JCPOA, or New START, the slightest miscalculation when tempers flare will expose our growing inability to constrain nuclear buildup around the world. We support this effort to stem a new arms race and maintain the safety of our allies.”

Derek Johnson, executive director, Global Zero, said: “The premature death of the INF Treaty is counter-productive and dangerous. The U.S. government should concentrate its efforts on pursuing any reasonable solution that keeps the INF Treaty’s restraints intact, not going gangbusters on unnecessary weapons programs. There is no need for the United States to develop INF-prohibited weapons; doing so will only fast-track a destabilizing arms race between two nations that already hold 90% of the world’s nuclear stockpile. By abandoning decades of leadership on arms control in favor of nuclear chaos, the White House is blazing a dangerous trail that puts Americans in harm’s way. The legislation put forward by Reps. Gabbard and Omar recognizes that reality and can help rein in the Trump administration’s reckless nuclear agenda.”

Robert Naiman, policy director, Just Foreign Policy, said: “Congress can act to preserve President Reagan’s INF treaty, saving taxpayer dollars that would be spent on unnecessary and destabilizing nuclear weapons. We support the efforts of Rep. Gabbard and other Members of Congress to preserve the INF treaty and look forward to votes in the House and Senate on preserving the INF treaty.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s full remarks:

“We face a greater risk of nuclear catastrophe than ever before in history. The threat of nuclear war is real. President Trump’s reckless decision to pull out of the INF Treaty heightens this threat by exacerbating the new Cold War, sparking a new arms race between the United States and Russia, bringing us ever closer to a nuclear holocaust.

“The people of Hawai‘i know just how real this threat is, when just over one year ago, a missile alert was sent out to over a million people in Hawai‘i, urging them to take shelter immediately. Families huddled in caves, a father lowered his child down a manhole cover into storm drain, and a parent who had to decide which of his children he would spend the last minutes of his life with.

“There was no shelter to be found. There was nowhere to hide. This alert ended up being a false alarm, but for those minutes, the people of Hawai‘i were terrified, thinking they had just minutes to live.

“What the people of Hawaii went through serves as a wake up call to the nation. This is a threat that faces every single American, in every single community in this country. There is no shelter from this threat. There is no safe place to run to. We must take action to end this new Cold War, and walk back from the abyss of nuclear war—our future is at stake.

“Over three decades ago, Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev negotiated the historic INF treaty that helped to end the Cold War, reverse the out-of-control arms race, and reduce the threat of nuclear war, moving us closer to peace. Yet, President Trump recklessly announced that he is pulling out of the INF Treaty. This has sparked a dangerous arms race, is exacerbating the new Cold War with Russia, and undermining our national security. Walking away from this agreement doesn’t solve our problems – it makes them worse. It doesn’t bring us closer to peace – it moves us closer to nuclear war.

“Rather than scrapping the INF treaty, we should work to strengthen it, to bring other countries like China into the treaty, and to pursue a diplomatic path that serves the mutual interests of peace. Rather than having the courage to lead and negotiate a stronger agreement, Trump has decided to walk away—a decision that makes us less safe, and fuels a new arms race that will waste more taxpayer dollars, coming out of the pockets of hard-working Americans, to pay for new arms and nuclear weapons that Trump wants to build—which means less money to address the very real needs of our people and our communities right here at home.

“This is why I introduced H.R. 1249—to stop President Trump from escalating the new Cold War, to stop President Trump from sparking a new arms race, and to stop more American taxpayer dollars from being wasted on military adventurism that make our country and the world less safe.

“The INF Treaty Compliance Act would ensure that our country remains compliant with the INF Treaty, prohibiting a single taxpayer dollar from being used for weapons that would breach the treaty. This is one step Congress can and must take now toward national security and peace.”

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