Hagel supports nuclear arms cuts, then elimination

January 29, 2013 - 12:32 PM
Hagel Nuclear Zero

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with his choice for Defense Secretary, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, after announcing Hagel's nomination in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chuck Hagel, the likely next secretary of defense, would be the first to enter the Pentagon as a public advocate for sharply reducing the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, possibly without equivalent cuts by Russia.

He also supports an international movement called Global Zero that favors eliminating all nuclear weapons in a decades-long step-by-step process.

That puts him outside the orthodoxy embraced by many of his fellow Republicans but inside a widening circle of national security thinkers — including President Barack Obama — who believe nuclear weapons have become less relevant to 21st century security threats like terrorism.

Hagel's views on nuclear arms reductions are expected to be probed by fellow Republicans during his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.