Congressional Record: June 30, 2000 (Senate)
Page S6291-S6292


  Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, a few weeks ago the Senate convened a 
joint meeting between Democrats and Republicans to receive a classified 
nuclear briefing from the Department of Defense. The purpose of this 
bipartisan meeting was for the members of the Senate to get a better 
understanding of our strategic nuclear weapons policy.
  Our briefers, which included Admiral Richard Mies, Commander of 
STRATCOM, had been invited to the Senate to explain the details of the 
Single Integrated Operational Plan--or SIOP. The SIOP is the highly-
classified nuclear blueprint of targets and targeting assignments for 
our strategic nuclear weapons arsenal, and is the driving force behind 
our strategic nuclear force levels. While the SIOP is a military 
document, it is based on guidance given to the Department of Defense by 
the President.
  As elected representatives of the people, and with a Constitutional 
role in determining national security policy, Congress should have an 
understanding of the principles underpinning our nuclear policy. Both 
the guidance provided by the President and the details of the SIOP are 
necessary for us to make informed national security decisions.
  With this in mind, we gathered in an interior room in the Capitol to 
get a full briefing on the SIOP. But when we asked the DoD briefers 
precise questions about the SIOP, we did not get the information we 
were seeking. The briefers were unable, or unwilling, to give us the 
kind of specific information about our nuclear forces and plans we need 
to make the decisions required as elected representatives of the 

[[Page S6292]]

 In fact, when asked for detailed targeting information we were given 
three different answers. First, we were told that they did not bring 
that kind of information. Then, we were told there were people in the 
room who were not cleared to receive that kind of information. Finally, 
we were told that kind of information is only provided to the Senate 
leadership and members of the Armed Services Committee. Because members 
of the leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee indicated 
they had never received such information, I can only surmise there must 
be a fourth answer.
  We find ourselves in an uncomfortable and counter-productive Catch-
22. Until we as civilians provide better guidance to our military 
leaders, we are unlikely to affect the kind of changes needed to update 
our nuclear policies to reflect the realities of the post-cold-war 
world. Yet, providing improved guidance is difficult when we are unable 
to learn the basic components of the SIOP. Given this, I followed up 
our meeting with a letter to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle 
requesting that he schedule another briefing so that we could get the 
information our first briefers would not provide.
  While I still believe this briefing is needed, we need not wait for a 
briefing on the details of the SIOP to answer the question of how many 
nuclear weapons are needed to deter potential aggressors. In truth, it 
is important for citizens, armed only with common sense and open-source 
information, to reach sound conclusions about our nuclear posture and 
force levels.
  To illustrate, we should ask experts to describe the deterrent 
capability of a single Trident submarine--our most survivable and 
reliable delivery platform. Within an hour of receiving an order to 
launch, a Trident could deliver and detonate 192 nuclear weapons on 
their targets. The minimum size of the detonations would 100 kilotons; 
the maximum would be 300 kilotons. By comparison, the Hiroshima 
detonation that caused Japan to sue for unconditional peace in August 
1945 was only 15 kilotons. In the open, we should assess what damage 
192 of these weapons would cause and determine whether this would deter 
most, if not all of the threats we face.
  Mr. President, I have made no secret of my strongly-held belief that 
we can and we should make dramatic reductions in our strategic nuclear 
arsenals. I believe that by keeping such a large arsenal of strategic 
nuclear weapons we are decreasing rather than enhancing our security. 
By keeping such a large arsenal we are forcing the Russians to keep 
more weapons than they can safely control. By keeping such a large 
arsenal we are increasing the chance of accidental or unauthorized 
launch. By keeping such a large arsenal we are increasing the 
likelihood of the proliferation of these weapons. By keeping such a 
large arsenal we are encouraging nations like India, Pakistan, Iran, 
and North Korea to pursue a nuclear weapons option. And finally, by 
keeping such a large arsenal we are diverting budgetary resources away 
from our conventional forces--the forces that are vital to protecting 
our interests around the globe.
  In the near future, I will return to the Senate floor to discuss this 
issue further. I will return with non-classified information--
information that comes not from briefings in secret rooms, but 
information all citizens can access through a simple search on Yahoo--
in an attempt to better understand our nuclear policy and the changing 
definition of deterrence in the post-Cold War world.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gorton). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I do have some Executive Calendar matters 
and other unanimous consent agreements that have already been worked 
out. I will proceed to those. However, I do note I want to offer a 
unanimous consent request with regard to the estate tax matter. I want 
the Democratic leader to be here when I make that request. I am hoping 
within the next few minutes we will also be able to conclude an 
agreement with regard to the Department of Defense authorization bill. 
Discussions are still underway, but I thought I would take advantage of 
this time.