Leonor Tomero, has been forced to resign as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, leaving the post she has held since Jan. 20 because the Defense Department eliminated her job.
The removal of President’ Joe Biden’s top political appointee in charge of nuclear policy from the Pentagon has fanned concern among disarmament advocates that the military industrial complex is sidelining leaders with less hawkish views as the administration develops its official policy on nuclear weapons.
Each administration since the 1990s has released Nuclear Posture Review, which sets out America’s nuclear weapons policy and strategy. The Biden administration is expected to release early next year.
Kim Quarantello, the legislative affairs director for the Pentagon’s policy office, told members of Congress last week that Tomero’s departure is linked to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s reorganization plans involving the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
The Pentagon’s recently created position of assistant secretary for space will absorb the responsibility for nuclear and missile defense, said military sources who claimed the deputy position was eliminated as part of a reorganization.
Tomero had been coordinating plans to curtail the modernization of the U.S. nuclear forces declared during the Obama administration and expanded under former President Donald Trump, who wanted to spend $1.2 trillion over 30-years on new nuclear weapons. that progressive lawmakers want to see curbed.
CBO estimated that the Obama administration’s 2017 plans for nuclear forces would cost $1.2 trillion (in 2017 dollars) over the 2017–2046 period. CBO analyzed nine options that would reduce those costs or delay some of them.
“Too many Armed Services Committee members continue to be captive to the military-industrial complex that would have us spend endless taxpayer money on non-critical military expenditures without any concern for maintaining a responsible budget,” said Council for a Livable World Executive Director John Tierney, in a statement issued after the House Armed Services Committee voted to increase the Pentagon budget by $23.9 billion.
“The United States is set to spend more on the military next year than the combined defense expenditures of the next 14 countries, including our biggest military rivals in China and Russia,” said former US Senate candidate Lisa McCormick, who condemned the firing of Tomero as deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense. “We are already spending more on defense, death and destruction than during the peaks of the Vietnam and Korean Wars.”
Before taking the Pentagon job in January, Tomero was director for Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for International Law and Politics and contributor to Nukes on a Blog.
Her expertise is in nonproliferation, nuclear weapons, and the nuclear fuel cycle.
Previously, she served on the staffs of Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, working on nuclear waste, energy, and environmental issues.