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“I guess it doesn’t take much to satisfy the Iranian mullahs and House Democrats but Trey Obering’s figured out how to do it,” the official said.

Asked about Gen. Obering’s meeting with the Democratic staff members, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman said: “Gen. Obering supports the president’s budget request. It is still very early in the budget process, and we will continue to provide information to Congress on the importance of full funding for the radar and interceptor sites in Europe.” Gates backs warhead Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently dealt a political blow to anti-nuclear activists by informing Congress that he strongly supports efforts to develop a modernized nuclear warhead known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

Anti-nuclear activists say the warhead, an upgrading of the existing B-60 nuclear warhead, poses a proliferation risk and is undermining stability.

“Nuclear weapons continue to play a critical role in the defense of the United States, its allies and friends,” Mr. Gates said in a letter to Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican. “Their unique capabilities contribute in vital and irreplaceable ways to the ability to deter adversaries and dissuade others from pursuing nuclear capabilities on their own.” Mr. Gates said in a May 4 letter to Mr. Domenici that the military requirement for a replacement warhead is “clearly defined” to support up to 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads and a reserve as a “hedge against future needs.” “I strongly support the RRW effort and believe it to be essential to supporting this requirement in the future with a smaller, safer, more reliable nuclear stockpile,” he said.

The RRW will replace old warheads and upgrade them with advanced safety and security features.

Regarding claims that the warhead will undermine the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr. Gates said “nonnuclear-weapon states, such as Iran and North Korea, are undermining the nonproliferation regime with nuclear programs that are contrary to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its safeguards.” He also left open the possibility that the United States might need to resume underground nuclear testing in the future but said the replacement warhead would decrease the need for future test blasts.

Henley passed over U.S. intelligence analyst Lonnie Henley has been passed over for promotion to the position of national intelligence officer (NIO) for East Asia. The position of top U.S. government Asia and China analyst has gone to former CIA China analyst Paul Heer, who was appointed to the post by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell.

The influential post is considered a key slot because the official in charge can exercise widespread influence over all analyses and research related to China.

China’s rise continues to be a subject of debate among intelligence officials and academics who disagree on whether Beijing poses a current or future threat to the United States.

Mr. Henley and Mr. Heer both are considered to hold benign views of China, according to intelligence officials familiar with their work.

Mr. Henley is familiar to readers of this column for the reprimand charging him with “poor judgment” for supporting former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ron Montaperto, who was convicted last year of improperly storing classified information and for passing top-secret intelligence to two Chinese military officers.

Mr. Henley wrote a letter to the judge in the Montaperto case urging a lenient sentence and also wrote an e-mail that was critical of the FBI for investigating Montaperto.

He is remaining as deputy NIO for East Asia.

Mr. Henley was favored for the top NIO post by National Intelligence Council Chairman Thomas Fingar, who officials say shares the views of Mr. Henley and Montaperto on China.