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Dempsey says status quo still possible on nukes

WASHINGTON (AP) – The nation’s top military leader says discussions about sharp new cuts in the U.S. nuclear force are preliminary and maintaining the status quo is still an option.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, was pressed Wednesday about The Associated Press report that the administration is weighing a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons.

Dempsey declined to comment on that figure. He said talks are ongoing in anticipation of negotiations with Russia.

The AP reported that the administration is considering at least three options for lower numbers. The potential cuts would be from the current treaty limit of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads.

Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas complained that any cuts would encourage U.S. enemies and discourage allies.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)