(Washington, D.C.) — Nebraska Senator Pete Ricketts is calling on fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally countries to meet their defense spending goals.
In 2014, at the NATO Summit in Wales, NATO Members agreed to get to 2% GDP spending by 2024. During a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing earlier this month, Ricketts called out several NATO nations for failing to meet those goals, despite past and present threats to the alliance.
“Despite an invasion by Russia of Ukraine and Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling, nearly ten years later, we only see seven NATO members that have reached that goal of 2%,” said Ricketts. “Many of the heavyweight economies that have $1 trillion in GDP – notably Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain – have not reached that goal.”
Ricketts pointed to Italy in particular, which he says is critical to NATO’s southern flank in Europe, which sits at just over 1.5% of GDP and won’t reach 2% until 2028. The former Nebraska Governor also pointed to further aggressions from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other adversaries, such as Chinese Leader Xi Jinping, as reasons to fulfill their spending commitments to provide a more effective deterrent.
Defense spending discussions are also expected at next month’s NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“We need to see this promise translated into action,” he said. “Of course, we’ve got the Vilnius summit coming up next month for NATO and it really is important that our NATO partners reach this goal. It’s literally depriving the alliance of tens of billions of dollars in defense (spending) that could be used toward deterrence.”
During the hearing, Ricketts also questioned Dorothy Shea, who has been nominated to serve as the U.S. Representative of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Ricketts expressed concerns over the lack of snapback sanctions enforced against Iran that would revive a general arms embargo and a looming expiration on the regulations.
“On October 18 of this year, the U.N. prohibition against Iran’s transfer of long-range drones and ballistic missiles will expire as will the U.N. asset freezes and visa bans against dozens of Iranian entities and individuals involved with nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” said Ricketts. “Iran has already violated the U.N. prohibition against arming Iran by sending hundreds if not thousands of drones to Russia.”
Ricketts also called for representatives of the Biden Administration to speak before the committee regarding reported negotiations with Iran on reviving the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal that the Trump Administration withdrew from in 2018.
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