By Daryl G. Kimball
Over the past 24 hours, a number of Republican Senators have added their voice in support for ratification of New START, reinforcing that it is a common sense, mainstream step forward that transcends the traditional partisan political divide. Minutes ago, the Senate voted 67-28 to bring debate on the treaty to a close, which should lead to a vote on final passage by tomorrow or sooner.
Unfortunately, over the past several days, the few Senators speaking on the floor against the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty have chosen to go against the bipartisan mainstream and ignore the advice of the uniformed leadership of the U.S. military, the civilian leadership and the intelligence community, who all strongly support prompt ratification of the treaty.
In a letter from Chairman of the JCS Adm. Mike Mullen sent to the Senate Tuesday, Mullen stated that:
"This treaty has the full support of your uniformed military, and we all support ratification. Throughout its negotiation, Secretaries Clinton and Gates ensured that professional military perspectives were thoroughly considered."
"The Joint Chiefs and I -- as well as the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command -- believe the treaty achieves important and necessary balance between four critical aims. It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent that will allow us to maintain stability at lower levels of deployed nuclear forces. It helps strengthen openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia. It will strengthen the U.S. leadership role in reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And it demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk of a nuclear incident resulting from proliferation."
Several Republican Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), claim the push for approval of New START this year is politically-motivated and designed to please a special interest group.
Really? Tell that to the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, who says that New START should be ratified immediately. "I think the START Treaty ought to be ratified and it ought to be ratified right now - this week," Klotz said during a visit to Minot Air Force Base this week.
Who are the "experts" cited by New START opponents in the Senate? Several cite the writings of people such as Doug Feith and Richard Perle, and they are relying on talking points generated by the Heritage Foundation.
As we have pointed out to several reporters (see The Boston Globe), these individuals and the Heritage Foundation were some of the same folks who argued against President Reagan's 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement before it was ratified in 1988. (See summary, below, of a 1988 American Enterprise Institute report on INF, which contains some of the same anti-arms control themes and erroneous arguments that are being recycled by New START opponents in this week's Senate debate on the treaty.)
Today, INF is recognized as one of the most important, path-breaking nuclear arms control agreements. It eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons and helped accelerate the easing of U.S.-Soviet relations just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Without INF, there would not likely have been a 1991 START agreement.
As Rose Gottemoeller, the current Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, wrote in a June 2007 article in Arms Control Today: "The legacies of the INF Treaty are remarkable. The treaty not only eliminated an entire class of nuclear missiles but also 'brought about a new standard of openness by creating a 13-year on-site verification regime of unparalleled intrusiveness.'"
If the Senate had listened to the opponents of verifiable nuclear arms reduction treaties such as the Heritage Foundation in 1988, we would not have INF and START and we could well have thousands more intermediate-range and long-range nuclear weapons pointed at us today.
If the Congress had listened to the arguments of Sen. Kyl and others in 1992 when they were debating and voting on whether to put in place a moratorium on U.S. nuclear testing, we could still have Russia, China, India, and Pakistan popping off nuclear tests, which would help them perfect new types of more deadly warheads.
History has shown that verifiable arms control initiatives reduce the nuclear threat and make the world safer in the 21st century. In the bipartisan tradition of earlier agreements negotiated by Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, New START will keep Washington and Moscow on track to reduce their arsenals by about 30 percent below current limits.
Some former opponents of negotiated arms reduction treaties with Russia have shown that they can change their minds. Today, in fact, none other than Richard Perle phoned me to make sure that I noted—for the record—that despite his criticisms in the 1988 American Enterprise Institute paper, at the end of the day, he testified before the Senate in support of INF.
We briefly discussed New START and what happens next. Perle, who doesn't believe the U.S. and Russia need treaties to further reduce their Cold War nuclear stockpiles, suggested that the United States and Russia could go lower than the 1,550 deployed strategic warhead limit.
I told him I agree: 1,550 nuclear weapons on each side—20 years after the end of the Cold War—is overkill. As ACA has argued for years (see our 2005 ACA report, "What Are Nuclear Weapons For?") the U.S. and Russia could easily go to far lower numbers very quickly and with New START in effect, they would be able to do so with far greater confidence.
New START is a vital step in the right direction, but there is clearly more left to be done in the weeks, months, and years ahead. To be continued....
Déjà vu All Over Again: the Heritage Foundation Recycles Its 1988 Talking Points in Its Losing Arguments on New START
Heritage Foundation Reports
"Insider Analysis of the INF Treaty"
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle and four other former government officials have completed a detailed review of the INF treaty. Perle was assisted in this effort by Frank Gaffney and Douglas Feith, former deputy assistant secretaries at the Pentagon; Michael Mobbs, former Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; and Seymour Weiss, a former Director of Politico-Military Affairs at the State Department.
Their 48-page analysis of the treaty was produced under the auspices of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). It is the definitive insider analysis of the U.S.-Soviet agreement. Some of the major defects in the agreement, according to the authors of the report, are:
Verification. Effective verification of this agreement, says Perle, is "nearly impossible." The complex verification regime needs greater precision and clarity, and if approved as drafted would be a dangerous precedent for future arms control agreements.
The Soviet Data. The accuracy of the data provided by Moscow is a matter of serious concern. Some intelligence analysts are convinced that the actual total of SS-20s is from 150 to 300 higher than the Soviets admit. The number of Soviet refire missiles is the subject of a major disagreement within the intelligence community. Administration officials contend that Moscow would have little to gain militarily by hiding a few hundred SS-20s, but Perle points to a Defense Department study that concluded that as few as 50 of the 3-warhead SS-20s could devastate NATO's defenses.
Mixing SS-20s and SS-25s. Another problem is the potential mixing of banned SS-20s and permitted SS-25s. The first stages of an SS-20 and an SS-25 are "outwardly similar." There is no apparent reason that an SS-25 launcher could not carry an SS-20, but U.S. inspectors are prohibited from looking inside SS-25 launchers to see if they hold SS-20s. The administration claims that since the Soviets are prohibited from testing SS-20s they eventually would lose confidence in the capabilities of a clandestine SS-20 force. But tests of the nearly identical SS-25 could be used to cover SS-20 tests.
Regarding the administration's claim that flight tests can be monitored, the report states that the Soviet SS-16 mobile ICBM was probably deployed for years, "even though we detected no flight tests."
Monitoring Production. The ability of U.S. intelligence to effectively monitor Soviet missile production is seriously in doubt. It is by no means certain that U.S. intelligence knows where all Soviet production facilities are located. Even if that were known, asks Perle, how would U.S. inspectors know if the Soviets begin production elsewhere? The data provided by Moscow shows that 84 new SSC-X-4 long-range cruise missiles are in storage in the USSR. Before the Soviets made available this information, U.S. intelligence believed that the SSC-X-4 was still in an early stage of deveopment. "This evident intelligence error," the report states, raises questions about the U.S. ability to monitor the treaty.
The Range Issue. The methods for determining the range of weapons not banned by the agreement constitute a significant loophole. Range capability of a ballistic missile is considered the maximum range to which it has been tested, while the range of a cruise missile is the distance to fuel exhaustion in its standard design. There is no practical way to verify the maximum ranges of these missiles, therefore, this part of the agreement is not verifiable.
Ban on Non-Nuclear GLCMs. A major deficiency is the provision in Article II that permanently bans deployment of conventionally-armed ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs). This prevents future NATO defenses from including new non-nuclear GLCMs, which could be a key part of such defenses. Advanced conventional weapons such as non-nuclear GLCMs will be needed more than ever in the absence of the Pershing IIs and nuclear GLCMs eliminated by the INF agreement. Yet the treaty gives away the U.S. right to deploy such weapons in Europe or elsewhere.
Non-Circumvention Clause. The non-circumvention clause (Article XIV), states simply that nothing will be done that conflicts with the agreement. This clause, added at Soviet insistence, already is being used by Moscow to try to block NATO defense improvements.
In addition to these key points, the report lists a number of other deficiencies. Perle has urged the Senate to correct the treaty's serious deficiencies through amendments or reservations. "We have learned to our regret," he said, "how difficult it is to resolve interpretative disputes when they emerge years after ratification."
Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.