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  • New START and the Special Relationship: A Case to Answer

    Last Friday, British newspapers reported that the U.S. had agreed to supply Russia with sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent in order to win Russian agreement to New START. Over the weekend, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described this claim as “bunk” and asserted that New START simply “carried forward and updated this notification procedure to the new treaty” from the 1991 START.

    The WikiLeaks document on which the original story was based—and the treaties of 1991 and 2011—tell a different story. The 1991 treaty requires notification of the transfer of items (such as the U.S.-made Trident II missiles on which Britain’s nuclear force relies). This notification must include “the number and type of items transferred; the date of transfer; and the location of transfer.”

    New START, on the other hand, requires that the “number, type, date, unique identifier, and location of the transferred [missiles] must be provided.” In short, New START goes further than the original START in at least two ways.

    First, the U.S. must now provide the Russians with a “unique identifier” for each transferred missile. As the U.S. negotiator states in the WikiLeaks cable, “this was more information than was disclosed under START.” Over time, this information will allow the Russians to build up a more complete picture of the size of the U.K.’s active nuclear force, information that Britain has deliberately kept secret.

    Second, the U.S. must now tell the Russians not where the transfer took place but where the transferred items will be kept. This distinction is crucial. Contrary to Crowley’s statement, the 2011 treaty imposes a new and much more exacting requirement on the U.S. Under the 1991 treaty, the U.S. could simply state that the missiles were transferred to Britain in, for example, Norfolk. Now, the U.S. is obligated to tell Russia where the British will store and deploy the missiles.

    This is important for two reasons. First, the U.K.’s deterrent force, like the U.S.’s, relies for its safety and survivability on the fact that possible adversaries do not know where it is and hence cannot target and destroy it. New START’s provisions eat into that protective veil of secrecy. Second, New START’s provisions obligate the U.S. to tell Russia about facilities inside Britain. This implies that Britain’s defenses are not fully its own and that Britain is not independent and sovereign in this nuclear realm. Nor do we know how the U.S. plans to fulfill this obligation. A general statement about Britain’s facilities would be bad enough, but if the U.S. passed on detailed information, that would be extremely damaging to the effectiveness of the U.K.’s deterrent.

    The WikiLeaks revelation is troubling for many other reasons. It is receiving scrutiny now only because of these unauthorized leaks: If the Senate had been provided with the full negotiating record, the importance of this sharing of British information could have been debated by the Senate. In particular, it is not clear if New START is compatible with the 1958 U.S.–U.K. Mutual Defence Agreement, which (except in certain specifically authorized circumstances) precludes the U.S. transfer to third parties—such as Russia—of U.K. nuclear information. If New START is incompatible with the 1958 agreement, then New START is an explosive breach of a fundamental and longstanding U.S. treaty obligation. More broadly, we do not know what other information about U.S. relations with other allies the U.S. has promised to disclose to the Russians.

    It also shows that the Russians have not given up on their Cold War tactic of seeking to treat Britain as an American subsidiary. Time and again during the Cold War, the Soviets argued that Britain’s defenses were just an extension of the U.S.’s and that Britain was not a fully sovereign country. The U.S. always rejected that contention and kept U.S.–Soviet negotiations strictly bilateral. Now, by agreeing to provide information about where Britain keeps its missiles, the U.S. has conceded part of the Soviet argument. This is a profoundly undesirable departure from decades of precedent and alliance diplomacy, which treated members of NATO as closely cooperating but nonetheless sovereign and independent states.

    Finally, the WikiLeaks cable shows that the Russians are now also seeking to use arms control negotiations as a lever to break down the close ties between the U.S. and Britain. The Russian negotiator is quoted as complaining that “Russia did not have an agreement with the U.K. to provide notification when the U.K. performed a test flight.” The U.S. negotiator responded (admirably) that that was not the U.S.’s problem. But the Russian negotiator was laying down an argument: If you want more arms control agreements in the future—and the Administration does indeed want more agreements—you cannot have them as long as we cannot inspect and control the close ties you have with Britain. In short, future agreements will come at the expense of the Anglo–American Special Relationship.

    The provisions of New START do not simply carry forward those of 1991. They are different, they are more extensive, they raise legitimate questions about what else we do not know, they undermine the secrecy—and thus the effectiveness—of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and the negotiating record as disclosed by WikiLeaks implies that the Russians view them as a way to break down the core of the Atlantic Alliance. For all these reasons, the WikiLeaks disclosures are profoundly troubling and should be the subject of detailed congressional investigation.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to New START and the Special Relationship: A Case to Answer

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New START and the Special Relationship: A Case to Answer | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. Yankee says:

      Not only does our government continue to provide for the common defense by means of a glass house, it now appears to believe that our allies should be similarly defended. Is this a new low?

    3. Pingback: New START and the Special Relationship: A Case to Answer | Big Propaganda

    4. Tommy, Tucson says:

      What an insult to our closest ally! I'm starting to change my mind about these WikiLeaks. Originally I felt they were a serious security violation. Now I'm beginning to realize the depth of the lies and half-truths that our government feeds us. It's one thing to keep actual security matters secret and another to hide the political motivations of our leaders.

    5. Leith Wood says:

      Obama's behavior towards

      Obama's treatment of Britain from the beginning of his rule has been rude, stupid, embarrasing to America and harmful to our interests in the world. He does not have America's interests at heart and is working hard to bring the country down. Wake up people and vote him out in 2012.

    6. Richard Hartman, Cen says:

      You are flat wrong. The treaty is available online. You should read it before you comment on it. If you simply read what is required you will find that the notification in paragraph 6 of Section II of the Annex on Notifications (Format Number 7) requires "TRANSFER LOCATION," which is in the U.S. not the U.K. There is no requirement to provide any locations in Great Britain or any information about their facilities.

      WikiLeaks has not provided a service. Their acts were criminal and Heritage should recognize that and act accordingly!

    7. Craig Torrence - Flo says:

      I, like General George Patton, do not trust the Russians in the least. We have always given them more information than they have given us. We have tried to

      be understanding to their request, yet when we request information from them

      it becomes evident that they have no interest in providing that info.

      Britain and the US have and will always be the best of allies with each other.

      We do have common ground and relations that go much deeper than politics.

      Our two Great Nations must always stand together. Our other allies are just as

      important and should be treated that way. Israel, has always been one of our greatest Allies and we all must do everything possible to protect that nation and it's government. Mr. Obama doesn't seem to like the Israely people or their government. This must come to an end now and forever.

      We must stand with all of our allies, arm in arm, and let the Russian Bear know it

      has many other worries besides the the New Start Treaty. It has China just to the east and Iran just to the South. How many nuclear weapons are currently pointed at Russia from these two countries. How many will the Iranians produce in the next few years. That is the best question that must be ask, that is where the next War will START !

      We must keep our nuclar fleet updated and ready for action – that is where the

      War will commence – the blatant attack by the Iranians on the Israelie people. The USA and the Britsh must be the protection that is required for Peace. We

      must be the eyes and ears for the rest of the free world.

    8. Bill England, Willia says:

      If I was the UK, I would be thoroughly pissed.

      The Senate should have suspected there was a problem when the negotiation records were not released to them, and should never have voted on the treaty without seeing them.

      Too many times the actions of our Congress show that there are too many members that lack any common sense.

    9. Larry Welch, Idaho says:

      We are governed by a team of fools! We know the Administration is hopelessly naive but for the Senate to confirm "New Start" is alarming. Where was Sen Lugar when he was needed? He has joined the many who must be replaced. Senator Kyl needs support in his well founded opposition to this disastrous treaty.

    10. Tim AZ says:

      This is what happens when you allow 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to become 1600 Chicago Way. Allies are reduced to pawns in the One's pursuit of his father's dreams. Had enough Yet?

    11. Stephen Maus, Republ says:

      This is what happens when a community organizer is elected to any public office, total incompetence.

    12. Yankee says:

      I have been unable to find a clear proof that New START requires disclosing "where the transferred items will be kept." The summary at http://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/141829.htm#text says in Part 4, Section 2, Paragraph 7, "The number, type, date, unique identifier, and location of the transferred SLBM must be provided." The phrase "location of the transferred" is somewhat ambiguous; it could mean the item's location before or after the actual transfer. From the Annex on Notifications under "NOTIFICATION OF TRANSFER OF ITEMS TO OR FROM A THIRD STATE" I only read "E. TRANSFER LOCATION: (Name/Coordinates)" which is also ambiguous Might I ask Mr. Theodore Bromund for the source from which the conclusion is drawn?

    13. Pingback: PODCAST: WikiLeads, New START, Harming Friends | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    14. Pingback: That Good Old ‘Pattern of Cooperation’ « Commentary Magazine

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