U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tuesday met with former Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense. Following the meeting, Inhofe released the following statement:
“Chuck Hagel is a good person, and it was a pleasure to serve with him in the United States Senate. I am so very appreciative of the sacrifices he and his brother made to serve this country during the Vietnam War. We had a very cordial meeting today in which we discussed his nomination.
“Unfortunately, as I told him during our meeting today, we are simply too philosophically opposed on the issues for me to support his nomination.
“One of my biggest concerns is avoiding Obama’s sequestration that, as Secretary Panetta has said, would be devastating to our military. However, Senator Hagel’s comments have not demonstrated that same level of concern about the pending defense cuts.
“Senator Hagel has also been an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament and the Global Zero Movement. At a time when North Korea is threatening our allies with their nuclear capabilities and Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it, the security of our own nation and that of our allies requires us to be vigilant with our own nuclear weapons and defense systems. This administration has already put us in a more vulnerable position by drastically cutting our nuclear defense budget and eliminating our Third Site missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“On Iran and Israel, Senator Hagel’s record concerns me as well. In 2000, he was one of just four senators who refused to sign a letter affirming U.S. solidarity with Israel. In 2001 he was one of just two Senators who voted against extending the sanctions against Iran. A year later, he urged the Bush administration to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. Given the current tension in the Middle East that is largely being instigated by the Iranian regime, I am concerned with Senator Hagel’s views.
“Although we are opposed on issues, we are still friends. This is one of those rare times when policy differences don’t stand in the way of personal relationships.”