Updated: ABC reported from Seoul, South Korea that at the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, President Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” after his election. Now the House and Senate are asking, "What flexibility."
The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders.
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
Click here for the video.
Monday a senior House Republican accused President Obama of going back on promises he would not weaken U.S. missile defenses through negotiations with Russia after the president was overheard promising more concessions after his reelection.
Rep. Michael R. Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, sought an explanation for the overheard comments made by the president Monday in a discussion in Seoul with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
Tuesday U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), entered the debate with concerns as he questioned U.S. Air Force General C. Robert Kehler, Commander of U. S. Strategic Command, about the reduction in funding under President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) proposed budget and apparent shift by President Obama in the nuclear defense strategy of the nation in a release sent directly to Tulsa Today.
Inhofe voiced his opposition to President Obama’s presumptions that he will “have more flexibility” to make a missile defense deal with the Russians after he is re-elected. Inhofe provided the panel with an opportunity to make statements about the President’s statement to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that was caught on an open microphone, but they declined to offer any comments.
Inhofe requested that U.S. Strategic Command provide an update on the current status of our nuclear weapons and platforms to include forecast service life.
“Our nuclear arsenal is as much about deterrence as it is about strike capability,” said Inhofe. “Under the New START deliberations, Congress was assured by President Obama that our remaining nuclear assets would continue to be modernized. Based on the cuts and delays to our nuclear arsenal and facilities in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, President Obama is once again going back on his word.”
Inhofe continued, “Another key concern is the reduction of our assets below the New START approved level of 1550. It seems that President Obama is looking at unilateral reductions even further below the agreed upon limits under the treaty. I remember back in 2008 when Secretary Gates said that we must maintain some level of these weapons ourselves to deter potential adversaries and to reassure over 30 allies and partners who rely on our nuclear umbrella for their security.”
When questioned about the 10:1 superiority the Russians have over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons, General Kehler agreed with Inhofe that further reductions in our nuclear arsenal should include a reduction in Soviet tactical nuclear weapons.