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  • START Follow on Treaty: In Pursuit of a Pipe Dream

    MOSCOW – After more than a year of negotiations on a follow-on to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev finalized the agreement this week. It now appears that the new START will be signed on April 8 in Prague, to commemorate the first anniversary of Obama’s “getting to zero” speech. Getting to zero denotes an unrealistic goal of the world free of nuclear weapons.

    Before anyone breaks out the champagne, however, one should remember that it could be months before a START follow on is ratified by the U.S. Senate—if ever. It took 429 days to ratify the 1991 START agreement after it was submitted to the Senate, for example.

    And while many arms control advocates are jubilant about a 30 percent reduction in U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions, larger questions linger. Foremost, will the treaty be adequately verifiable, will it impose limitations on US defense modernization, and will it reduce the likelihood of aggression and war?

    There are legitimate reasons to be concerned. Onlookers have already seen concessions including cancellation of a key missile defense system in Europe.

    In addition, the White House clearly lost ground on the issue of verification. When the START treaty expired in December, the U.S. had to abandon a monitoring station for Russian weapons at the entry and exit portals in Votkinsk, Russia.

    By agreeing to leave this station, the U.S. will be unable to monitor the production of Russia’s highly destabilizing RS-24 mobile multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Open sources indicate that this missile will be the mainstay of Russian strategic forces by 2016.

    As Russia could place multiple warheads on RS-24 and other ballistic missiles while the U.S. moves aggressively toward single warhead missiles, a disparity may be created. Fewer Russian missiles may carry more warheads.

    Arms control advocates frequently assert that the fewer nuclear weapons there are, the safer we all will be. This is not so. Thus, pursuing reductions in a haphazard way, to very low numbers, can lead to increased instability and heighten the likelihood of a nuclear war. This problem will be compounded many fold insofar as President Obama has made an unequivocal and unqualified campaign commitment to “de-alert” that the nuclear arsenal of the United States.

    Touting the treaty, the Obama administration is likely not to modernize U.S. nuclear forces as needed, despite the growing Chinese and, down the road, Iranian nuclear build-up. America’s nuclear infrastructure is rapidly aging and struggling to maintain its reliability and effectiveness.

    The Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration stated last year that “…maintaining certification of the finely-tuned designs of an aging Cold War stockpile solely via warhead refurbishments and absent nuclear testing involves increasing risk.”  Simply put, the U.S. is not producing new nuclear weapons, and its ICBM force is shrinking and not being modernized. In contrast, Russia and China are engaged in a major modernization effort.

    Finally, there are also concerns that it will undermine Prompt Global Strike (PGS) intercontinental ballistic missiles with conventional warheads as well as further limit directly or indirectly options on U.S. missile defense.

    The real danger now is that the Obama administration is codifying the old adversarial balance of terror relationship between the U.S.-Soviet Union. The Heritage Foundation has argued that the U.S. should instead have used the Treaty to move Moscow away from a nuclear posture based on threat of nuclear Armageddon and intimidation and toward a fundamentally more defensive posture.  Unfortunately, the Administrated has squandered this opportunity.

    Signing arms control treaties to score a public relations stint and a photo opportunity in pursuit of unrealistic “getting to zero” pipe dream is bad policy. The Senate should keep this in mind when considering the new Treaty’s ratification.

    Research Assistant Owen Graham contributed to this post.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to START Follow on Treaty: In Pursuit of a Pipe Dream

    1. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Wowee! Vladimir and Dmitry know they must move quickly before 2012 to take full advantage of America’s easy mark in the Whitehouse. Just what this nation needs on top of everything else, Obama and gang‘s “can’t we just all get along” disarmament. Did he not learned anything about blocking law abiding citizens from having a handgun in the crime riddled streets of Chicago? Can a president be impeached for stupidity?

    2. Barbara F Delo says:

      I'd just like to repeat the sentence…"Simply put, the US is not producing new weapons…By contrast, Russia and China are engaged in a major modernization effort (of their ICBM's)."

      As unpleasant as it is to think of a world with nuclear weapons,the simple fact of history is that nuclear deterrance through strength has proven to be effective in keeping nuclear weapons from being used since the end of the Second World War. A strong and modern military can also be a useful tool for negotiation.

      Ronald Reagan had more foreign policy successes with the backup of a strong military than did peace loving Jimmy Carter.

    3. Dapper O,Lafayette,I says:

      I wish that man in the oval office were just as committed as getting rid of abortion in The U.S. as he is to getting rid our nuclear weapons.

    4. Dapper O,Lafayette,I says:

      Ever since 1989 I have always felt that THE SOVIET UNION or Moscow is istll a threat ot this nation no matter who is in the oval office or kremlin(it will be a cold day in you-know-where)before I ever start calling that nation Russia.

    5. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      I concur with Barbara Delao's peace through strength. And to all the socialist wannabes in today‘s federal government, defense of America’s founding principles does make right.

    6. Alex Simic, Windsor On says:

      Didn’t Russia recently assist India in developing a high speed, intercept proof warhead delivery system. I believe that they have already flight tested it. My source may be flawed, however, since I heard this on Radio Moscow, but I am suprised that Radio Moscow would even report this.

    7. Normca says:

      King Hussein, in the white house today is achieving his aims. To weaken America while our adversaries strengthen. Obama sat in Wright's church for 20 years; this is what he knows. This king is dangerous; Jimmy Carter was just weak in speech with some minor actions in 4 years. Verification, the hallmark of the greatest president in my life time is no doubt not a part of this with a Clinton doing the bargaining. [Its all for show.] The democrats in Congress will not wait til 1-21-11 to pass this one.

    8. Brian j conway Valat says:

      Teddy Roosevelt said it well over a century ago. "Speak softly and carry a big stick" I think, with an ex-KGB guy really pulling the strings in Russia, behind a puppet president, we would do well to remember the tale of the Trojan Horse. If I'm right, and I hope I'm not, we won't get a second chance if we guess wrong.

      Brian J Conway

      Valatie, N. Y.

    9. Tim AZ says:

      Mao-Bama is doing everything he can to get this country to zero. China and the Sickle need only to wait and then they can fight for the huge amount natural resources in America once she is completely broken from within. It should make for good reality tv.

    10. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      To Alex in Windsor. Russia did develop " … a high speed, intercept proof warhead delivery system." It's called Obama. And he's proven to be menacingly destructive for America.

    11. BigKev03 says:

      Nuclear weapons are the tools that have kept the world from going to war sicne 1945. Minus regional conflicts amongst non nuclear countries there has been no threat of an all out world war. And now Barry sees fit to surrender our nuclear arsenal because he is a complete moron!!!!

    12. Lloyd Scallan - New Orleans area says:

      How many times and in what language must it be said, Obama is DELIBERTELY
      putting this nation in harms way? He is showing weakness to those that only respect power. Obama is a socialist and Marxist that must be stopped before
      we get to the point of no return.

    13. stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      Annother pansy obama move, drop americas pants and let the world laugh at us for living in a land of make belive. At this rate countries like China and North Korea can just walk right into this country without a fight.

    14. R Brent says:

      It is incredible how this administration continues to put the Nation and our allies at risk. What ever happened to "trust but verify"? Only a naive or moronic person would put any trust in Russia or its leaders. They are not only corrupt, but are enemies of the United States and dangerous to its neighbors (particularly those more closely alligned with the West – but not for long as they watch what Obama does). This President is becoming a clear and present danger to the US. What a disaster!

    15. Vincent, Maryland says:

      I agree completely. The key to to maintaining American's security and safety is modernizing our nuclear arsenal, increasing its size and improving accessibility for millions of Americans. Fewer nuclear weapons means one thing – greater instability and a guarantee of nuclear warfare. By increasing our stockpile and ensuring each American has one nuke, the world and most importantly, America, will be safer. Obviously, our stockpile of thousands of nukes is insufficient if nuclear warfare is to occur. Russia, aka the Soviet Union, will not be deterred by a few thousand nukes. Only the overwhelming threat of 300 million will be able to deter them when they decide to start WWIII.

      I'm sorry but I can't keep the charade up any longer. The belief that somehow decreasing our stockpile and Russia's as well, will negatively effect our ability to maintain our security and the threat of mutual destruction is utterly false. Our "decreased" stockpile will still be more than capable of ensuring every person on the world is dead, either through the direct force of the bomb and shockwave or through the fallout. 2,000 nukes or 8000 nukes is hardly going to change the status quo. Ultimately, a decrease it the size will allow us to better monitor each other's weapons and improve the liklihood they will not fall into the hands of a rogue nation or terrorist group. Already, we subsidize Russia in protecting their stockpile. Decreasing it will only improve our ability to ensure its security. Ultimately though, the threat of a nuclear attacks in this era is more likely to come from a terrorist group or a rogue nation coming into the possession of a nuke than an established country such as China or Russia. The consequences are too great and there would be a concrete target to retaliate against. A terrorist group has no such fear as they operate outside the confines of a nation state. This is the greater threat and reducing what we have to watch only makes sense if we place attention to the real threat.

    16. Pingback: 33 Minutes

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