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  • New START’s Many Problems: What the Experts Say

    Obama and Medvedev

    Compiled below are comments made by various experts regarding the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Be sure to follow our continuing coverage of the New START and the impact it will have on America’s security.

    GENERAL CONCERNS:

    Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ):

    “First, it’s not clear that the treaty’s verification provisions are adequate. Second, the treaty’s failure to take into account Russia’s enormous tactical nuclear weapons arsenal (more than 10 times larger than that of the U.S.) and the limitations it places on U.S. conventional global strike capabilities are serious flaws. Third, the treaty links missile defense to strategic arms reduction—a linkage that had been wisely broken by the Bush administration.” — Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2010


    The Hon. Eric Edelman, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

    “[A] START-like treaty that ignores North Korea and Iran may be a step backward rather than forward…” – Testimony, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 24, 2010

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):

    “[I] do not believe this treaty is in the best interest of the United States as it will have profound negative implications on our national security….[It] is rooted in the paradigm of the Cold War….[It] focuses on reducing the strategic nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States and fails to address proliferation of nuclear weapons in other countries, the large number of tactical nuclear weapons and the increased threat of a nuclear terrorist attack. [It] does not reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism and proliferation and it does not ensure all existing weapons remain secure.” – Statement on Senate Floor, June 18, 2010

    The Hon. James Woolsey, former CIA director:

    “Above all the Obama administration should clarify to the U.S. Senate and the Russian government that neither the new U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty nor commitments made during the negotiation process will in any way limit our ability to protect ourselves against an Iranian nuclear attack.” — Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2010

    Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT):

    “I don’t believe that there will be 67 votes to ratify the START treaty unless the administration does two things: First, commit to modernize our nuclear stockpile so as we have less nuclear weapons we know they’re capable, if, God forbid, we need them; and secondly, to make absolutely clear that some of the statements by Russian President Medvedev at the signing in Prague that seem to suggest that if we continue to build the ballistic missile defense in Europe that they may pull out of this treaty — they’re just unacceptable to us.” – Fox News Sunday, April 11, 2010

    The Hon. James Talent, former U.S. Senator and Vice Chair of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism:

    “[The Bilateral Consultative Commission] would be able to make unilateral changes in the treaty with regard to missile defense.…that are not substantive, but [it] never defines what is or isn’t substantive.” – National Review Online, July 8, 2010

    CONSTRAINS MISSILE DEFENSE:

    Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and former U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation:

    “Initially, the Obama Administration gave numerous assurances that there would be no limitations on missile defenses in the Treaty – ‘no way, no how.’ Later, once the Treaty text was made public, the line changed to ‘no meaningful’ limitations and ‘no constraints on current and planned’ programs.” – Testimony, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, June 24, 2010

    The Hon. Stephen J. Hadley, former National Security Adviser to the President:

    “Regrettably, the language of the New START Treaty and accompanying Administration and Russia statements…[is] suggesting that some level of U.S. missile defenses – perhaps anything beyond even current levels – could justify Russian withdrawal from the Treaty. Even more troubling, the Bilateral Consultative Commission seems to have been given authority to adopt without Senate review measures to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty which could include restrictions on missile defenses.” – Statement, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, June 10, 2010

    The Hon. Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Arms Control:

    “To the degree that an otherwise unimportant Cold War relic like the new START treaty limits our freedom to optimize our defenses, it will diminish rather than increase our safety. In this regard, Vladimir Putin’s threat to abandon the treaty if he doesn’t like our defensive forces is troubling. Militarily, it wouldn’t matter if Russia withdrew….But Mr. Putin could gain powerful leverage by threatening to do so since Mr. Obama has hyped the treaty’s importance, claiming, without a shred of evidence, that it will restrain the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries.” – Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2010

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ):

    “[T]he concern that the new START treaty could constrain our capabilities is an issue of significant importance.…[T]he treaty text—not just the preamble, but Article V of the treaty itself—includes a clear, legally-binding limitation on our missile defense options. Now, this may not be a meaningful limitation, but it is impossible to deny that it is a limitation, as the administration has said. I continue to have serious concerns about why the administration agreed to this language in the treaty text, after telling the Congress repeatedly during the negotiations that they would do no such thing, and I fear it could fuel Russia’s clear desire to establish unfounded linkages between offensive and defensive weapons….[A]ny notion of a Russian veto power over decisions on our missile defense architecture is unacceptable.”– Statement, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, June 17, 2010

    Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ):

    “The administration accepted treaty language that will help the Russians argue that the U.S. should cut back development of defenses against ballistic missiles. This is worrisome, less because of the explicit limitations on missile defense than because Mr. Obama has repeatedly shown weak support for U.S. missile defense.”—Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2010

    “What I find truly alarming about the Nuclear Posture Review is that it claims to support a ‘safe, secure, and effective’ nuclear arsenal, but at the same time it imposes unnecessarily strict tests in terms of extending the life of warheads that may need components replaced. So I am not yet convinced that ratifying this treaty is in the best interests of the United States, and I know it won’t be unless the administration commits to a robust and adequately resourced modernization program for our nuclear deterrent.” – National Journal, April 20, 2010

    Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

    “[I]t’s sort of troubling that we begin with two divergent views on what we’ve agreed to as relates to missile defense.” – Statement, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, May 18, 2010

    Senator John McCain and Senator Jon Kyl:

    “While we were initially advised that the only reference to missile defense was in the preamble to the treaty, we now find that there are other references to missile defense, some of which could limit U.S. actions. Further, the Russians have unilaterally declared that the article which allows either Russia or the U.S. to withdraw…is intended to allow Russian withdrawal if it believes new U.S. missile defense capabilities pose a threat to its strategic nuclear forces. This has the potential to constrain improvements to U.S. missile defenses, if objected to by the Russians. “ – Statement, April 8, 2010

    Senator John Barrasso (R-WY):

    “Before I can support the START treaty, the president must demonstrate his commitment to preserving our entire nuclear triad. The administration must retain land-based ICBMs. If we decrease the footprint of our land-based ICBMs, we will weaken the safest, most secure, reliable, available, and cost-effective tool in America’s nuclear arsenal.” – Casper Star Tribune, April 15, 2010

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):

    “When taken together, the Treaty Preamble, Russian unilateral statement, and pronouncements by senior Russian officials suggests the Russians believe there is a linkage between certain U.S. missile defense activities and their adherence to the treaty. While the Obama administration had made it clear that the treaty in no way limits any U.S. missile defense activity, what is more important is what the Russians think.” – Statement on Senate Floor, June 18, 2010

    Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts:

    “New-START impedes missile defense, our protection from nuclear-proliferating rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. Its preamble links strategic defense with strategic arsenal. It explicitly forbids the United States from converting intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos into missile defense sites. And Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability. Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion. Moscow’s vehemence over our modest plans in Eastern Europe demonstrates that such permission would be extremely unlikely.” – Washington Post, July 6, 2010

    Ambassador John Bolton, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control:

    “Russia’s unilateral statement …explicitly states that a qualitative or quantitative increase in U.S. missile-defense capabilities would constitute grounds for Moscow to withdraw.…[The President] has given Russia a de facto veto over U.S. missile-defense plans.…Advances in missile defense are now effectively impossible….” – National Review Online, April 19, 2010

    James Miller, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

    “The Russian unilateral statement suggests that Russia would consider withdrawing from the new START treaty if there is ‘a build-up in the missile defense system capabilities of the United States of America such that it would give rise to a threat to the strategic nuclear force potential of the Russian Federation.’” – Testimony, Senate Committee on Armed Services, April 21, 2010

    Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC):

    “The Russians don’t appear to misunderstand what’s in this treaty….We have complete flexibility with missile defense until it gets to the point where it threatens their ability to deliver weapons.” –Statement, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, May 18, 2010

    Senator James E. Risch (R-ID):

    “[Y]et when you read the preamble…and most importantly when you read the unilateral statements, we have irreconcilable differences. This treaty means something different to the Russians than it means to us when it comes to protecting our people using a defensive missile structure.” — Statement, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, May 18, 2010

    WEAK ON VERIFICATION:

    Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and the Hon. Eric Edelman, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

    “[B]ecause a bomber will now be counted as one warhead no matter how many bombs or cruise missiles it carries, the agreement may be the first of its kind to permit an actual increase in fielded warhead levels. Furthermore, as some analysts have suggested, the treaty may contain a startling loophole, large enough to drive a train through, which would not count ICBM launchers on rail-mobile platforms…” – National Review Online, May 10, 2010

    The Hon. Paula A. DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation:

    “The verification measures…add nothing to what was there before in the original START treaty. …We do not have the independent satellite capabilities to…achieve the level of contribution to verification that we had in the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty or in the [old] START treaty….We will know significantly less about current and future Russian missiles….We are not going to gain much through identifiers; we are not going to gain much for treaty purposes through the Reentry Vehicle onsite inspections; the telemetry protocol has been gutted….The Russians can do so much under this treaty to advance and expand their strategic forces…and our ability to determine whether or not they are…and whether it violates the treaty is very, very low. The degree of verifiability is very low.” – Remarks at The Heritage Foundation, June 30, 2010

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):

    “[V]erification appears to be less robust than in the 1991 treaty. We have heard repeatedly by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, the head treaty negotiator, that the verification procedures are simpler and cost less. Given that the verification measures for this treaty have been ‘simplified,’ I am concerned that it will make it harder for our intelligence community to monitor Russian nuclear forces and may require additional resources, which we do not currently have, to ensure we are adequately monitoring…developments. I am also concerned that 18 inspections per year, or 180 inspections in 10 years, is not robust enough given the fact we conducted on the order of 600 inspections during the 15 years of START I.” — Statement on Senate Floor, June 18, 2010

    The Hon. James Talent, former U.S. Senator and Vice Chair of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism:

    “There is powerful evidence…that the treaty reflects an agreement that the United States will not build a missile-defense system that could be used against Russia. The implications of that agreement go far beyond America’s relationship with Russia, because it is impossible to build a robust missile defense against, for example, Iran, which could not also be used against Russian missiles. So to the extent that START limits missile defense against Russia, it must and will narrow the options we have to defend against Iran, and, for that matter, North Korea.” — National Review Online, July 8, 2010

    ADVANTAGE RUSSIA:

    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL):

    “This was a treaty that Russia needed more than the United States. Not only were Russian strategic nuclear forces headed to lower numbers for economic reasons, Russia wants an arms control agreement with the United States. Such a bi-national agreement validates its superpower status. The United States therefore had an opportunity to leverage Russian desire for an agreement to obtain Russian cooperation on a host of issues, starting with Iran. But the administration missed this opportunity because it was so anxious to advance its vision of a world without nuclear weapons that it failed to see how START could help address the more immediate threat of nuclear proliferation.” — Statement on the Senate Floor, May 14, 2010

    Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation:

    “For some in Russia…New START serves a number of purposes: it constrains U.S. forces while not encumbering Russian forces; it perpetuates deterrence through the balance of terror and mutual assured destruction; it enhances the status of Russia and restores in part the lost prestige from superpower days; and it once again treats nuclear weapons – the one category of arms on which Russia can compete with the United States – as the principal currency of the relationship.” – Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, June 24, 2010

    “I do not know the Russian position. But I do know that the New START Treaty is totally silent on rail-mobiles and that all previous START provisions that captured rail-mobile ICBMs were either deleted or changed to exclude them.” Testimony, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, June 24, 2010

    The Hon. Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control:

    “Russia emphatically has not embraced Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. To the contrary, as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates candidly told the Senate, “Everything we see indicates they’re increasing the importance and the role of their nuclear weapons in the defense of Russia.” – Moscow Times, June 28, 2010

    New START Working Group

    “If Russia exploits the legal lapses in New START, there is no actual limit in the new treaty on the number of strategic nuclear warheads that can be deployed. The number of Russia’s strategic nuclear warheads would be limited only by the financial resources it is able to devote to strategic forces, not by New START warhead ceilings—which would be the case without this new Treaty.”— Heritage Foundation report, April 30, 2010

    The Hon. Eric Edelman, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

    “The agreement, by reducing deployed-launcher levels to 700 while keeping warhead levels high and discounting bomber loads, creates an even greater incentive for Russia to field land-based missiles with multiple warheads—which is exactly what Moscow intends to do. As for ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons—as though any nuclear weapon can be tactical or ‘non-strategic’—the agreement is silent; which is exactly what Moscow wanted, to preserve its estimated 10-to-1 advantage in this category of weapons.” — National Review Online, May 2010

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):

    “Henry Kissinger stated on 25 May, 2010 that ‘The large Russian stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons, unmatched by a comparable American deployment, could threaten the ability to undertake extended deterrence.’ The Perry-Schlesinger Strategic Posture Commission report notes ‘The combination of new warhead designs, the estimated production capability for new nuclear warheads, and precision delivery systems such as the Iskander short-range tactical ballistic missile, open up new possibilities for Russian efforts to threaten to use nuclear weapons to influence regional conflicts.’ And going back to March 2003, then Senator Biden stated that ‘After entry into force of the Moscow Treaty, getting a handle on Russian tactical nuclear weapons must be a top arms control and non-proliferation objective of the United States Government.’ I cannot overemphasize the threat of tactical nuclear weapons and I ask you, where is that effort that our current Vice President so aptly stated during his time as a Senator? I can easily see a scenario where Russian tactical nuclear weapons reach the U.S. homeland by way of nuclear cruise missiles launched from submarines deployed near U.S. shores…. [or] one of those tactical nukes falls into the hands of a terrorist organization bent on attacking America or our allies. Unfortunately, the new START does not address the threat of nuclear terrorism and proliferation and it does not ensure all existing weapons remain secure.” – Statement on Senate Floor, June 18, 2010

    The Hon. Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control:

    “(C)ritics are rightly concerned that the number of strategic warheads has fallen so low that the United States can no longer ignore Russia’s overwhelming advantage in tactical warheads…. Regrettably, these deep reductions in strategic weapons have not been matched by Russian reductions in tactical weapons. By most estimates, the United States today deploys just between 200 and 300 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, compared to Russia’s arsenal of between 2,000 and 3,000.” – Moscow Times, June 28, 2010

    Dr. Keith Payne, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Policy, and Member, Perry-Schlesinger Commission to assess U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities:

    “(F)or many the great locus of concern about Russian nuclear weapons lies in its large arsenal of tactical (i.e., short-range) nuclear weapons. According to U.S. officials, Russia has a 10-to-1 numeric advantage. In 2002, then Sens. Joe Biden and John Kerry, and the current White House Science Adviser, John Holdren, expressed great concern that the Bush administration’s Moscow Treaty did not limit Russian tactical forces. One might expect, therefore, that New START would do so; but the Russians apparently were adamant about excluding tactical nuclear weapons from New START. This omission is significant. The Russians are now more explicit and threatening about tactical nuclear war-fighting including in regional conflicts. Yet we still have no limitations on Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal.…” – Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2010

    Ambassador David Smith, U.S. leader on U.S.-Soviet Defense and Space Talks:

    “New START validates instability in Russia’s strategic force structure… they are unlikely to budge [on MIRVs] because the New START validates their financially driven reductions in delivery vehicles.” — Defense News, April 19, 2010

    MAKES AMERICA LESS SAFE:

    The Hon. Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Arms Control:

    “Last week, the president (a) signed an arms-control agreement with Russia that is a nearly perfect example of Cold War thinking; (b) announced a nuclear-weapons doctrine that does almost nothing to reduce the role of these weapons in a largely unchanged national security strategy; and (c) moved to abandon or diminish essential modernization of our aging arsenal. This is a dangerous, short-sighted policy that rejects or marginalizes the most urgent recommendations of the William Perry-James Schlesinger 2009 bilateral commission on nuclear forces.” – Wall Street Journal, Aril 13, 2010

    Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC):

    “This idea that…[reducing] the number of offensive weapons that we have is going to encourage Iran and North Korea to play a responsible role in the world is absurd.” — American Foreign Policy Council conference on missile defense, May 20, 2010

    “I think the START Treaty will do more to encourage the proliferation of nuclear missiles than no START Treaty at all, because countries will realize that they are going to have to defend themselves, that we are not going to even try to develop a defense system that can protect them.” – Foreign Policy Institute panel, June 23, 2010

    The Hon. Kim R. Holmes, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs:

    “The administration says our greatest threats are Iran and terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons—not Russia. Yet, the new treaty will do nothing to convince Iran or other rogue states and terrorists to follow our disarmament lead. Not only that, it increases the centrality of nuclear weapons in the U.S.-Russian strategic balance….”– Washington Times, May 26, 2010

    No treaty should hinder the future development, testing and deployment of U.S. missile defenses.…For the sake of just getting a treaty, the president signed an instrument that establishes Russia as a dominant nuclear power; limits America’s ability to respond to future threats; and will likely start rather than deter a future arms race.” — Washington Times, May 26, 2010

    FAILS TO ADVANCE NON-PROLIFERATION:

    The Hon. Eric Edelman, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

    “The Nuclear Posture Review rightly points out that the nation can reduce the role of nuclear weapons, even in the face of these difficulties, because we have improved Missile Defense and PGS [Prompt Global Strike] capabilities, but this is true only if we continue to field these capabilities in sufficient numbers, and with plausible operational concepts that enable us to preserve our security interest. New START, unfortunately introduces limits and obstacles to further development of precisely these means of defending the country.” – Testimony, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, June 24, 2010

    The Hon. Kim R. Holmes, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs:

    “The total number of nuclear weapons may shrink, but the net result of this treaty will be to accentuate the role of nuclear weapons, particularly in Russia’s military planning….[T]he Russians are trying to constrain our advantage in conventional (non-nuclear) ‘strategic’ weapons, including missile defense, in order to accentuate the power of their nuclear arsenal. So even if the overall levels of nuclear weapons are lower, their strategic importance would be greater in maintaining the military balance. This treaty thus codifies Russia’s interest in maintaining the centrality of nuclear weaponry —subverting the administration’s lofty intentions to use this treaty as a step toward universal nuclear disarmament.” – Washington Times, April 1, 2010

    REVERTS TO COLD WAR-STYLE ARMS CONTROL:

    The Hon. Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control:

    “[I]t recreated the Cold War arms control dynamic. For the Russians, this negotiation was essentially Christmas Day over and over again. They kept asking for more. They kept getting more. The more they said no, the more concessions they got.” – Foreign Policy Institute panel, June 23, 2010

    Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC):

    “[We have the technology, the capability and the responsibility as a federal government to defend our citizens, and to sign a major treaty that agrees in perpetuity to make ourselves vulnerable to a nuclear attack …I can’t accept that when we have the capability to change it…” — American Foreign Policy Council conference, May 20, 2010

    The Hon. Frank Gaffney, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy:

    “If ratified, this treaty will implicate the Senate in a radical, wooly-headed disarmament agenda that has at its core the unilateral denuclearization of the United States through the unchecked atrophying of its arsenal.” — Townhall.com, May 17, 2010

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