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Published June 20, 2013, 08:45 AM

Hoeven, Heitkamp oppose nuke cuts

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation are opposing nuclear weapon reductions proposed by President Barack Obama.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation are opposing nuclear weapon reductions proposed by President Barack Obama.

Obama said during a speech in Berlin on Wednesday that he wants U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles reduced by one-third, less than required by a U.S.-Russia treaty that took effect two years ago. Obama said "bold reductions" are needed to move away from the war posture that continues to seed mistrust between the two countries' governments.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., all issued statements denouncing Obama's call for fewer nuclear weapons. Many of the United States' nuclear missiles are in underground silos in North Dakota maintained by airmen at Minot Air Force Base.

"I am alarmed the President is negotiating nuclear disarmament exclusively with Russia, at the same time increasingly unstable and untrusted countries including China, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan are maintaining, expanding, or modernizing their nuclear arsenals," Cramer said.

Heitkamp said the U.S. needs not only to keep a strong nuclear force but also to modernize it.

"There continue to be threats throughout the world which require our nation to maintain its nuclear readiness and capability," she said. "In North Dakota, Minot Air Force Base stands at the ready with the strongest possible deterrent to those that wish the United States harm. It is imperative that we continue to modernize and defend our nuclear triad from reductions that may threaten our nuclear deterrent capabilities."

Hoeven said he thinks reducing the country's nuclear stockpile could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the globe.

"Our adversaries do not share the president's vision of a world without nuclear weapons and will continue to build up their forces. Meanwhile, our allies would lose confidence in the U.S. deterrent and decide to build their own nuclear weapons," he said. "Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons means stopping the president's plan."

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