Hagel says U.S. will continue to need nuclear deterrents in future

Realistically, the U.S. will continue to need nuclear deterrents going forward, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday.

Hagel made the remarks on Wednesday from the Defense Nuclear Weapons School on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Hagel responded to a question about whether he thought the U.S. would always have the nuclear deterrents. He said that while he is an optimist, he understands the reality of the world.

"As you remember, in 1986, Ronald Reagan said to Gorbachev, 'Let's just eliminate them,'" Hagel said. "I don't see the foreseeable future that happening, unfortunately, because we're not going to disarm. We can't just unilaterally cash in our nuclear chips. So, this has to be worked, just like each of those treaties that had the -- had been worked by all of our presidents -- modern presidents -- to try to get those stockpiles down to keep reducing, reducing -- and then reduce the threat."

Hagel said the U.S. would need to keep nuclear deterrents, particularly in the face of threats from Iran and North Korea. He said North Korea continues to promote and increase its nuclear weapons capacity while the main issue with Iran is about its nuclear capability.

Hagel said the U.S. needs to stay strong to promote peace.

"As long as we have the strongest national security system of any nation in the world and we continue to keep that modern and strong, then we should also continue to promote that deceleration and bringing down the -- the threat of nuclear weapons; do everything we can to work with our partners on that," Hagel said.