Senior Defense Officials Support New START

Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 4, May 13, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed by the United States and Russia on April 8, 2010 has garnered substantial support from current and former senior national security officials and the U.S. military. As the Senate prepares for formal hearings on New START to begin next week, the following are some of the most prominent recent statements of support.

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, from The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2010:

"The U.S. is far better off with this treaty than without it."

"[T]he treaty is buttressed by credible modernization plans and long-term funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure that supports it."

"The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership-to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result-on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people."

Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee, April 29, 2010:

"I support the New START treaty and believe that it will enhance United States national security."

James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense, Nixon and Ford administrations; former Director of Central Intelligence, Nixon administration; from his April 29, 2010, Senate testimony:

"I think that it is obligatory for the United States to ratify [New START]. And any treaty is going to have limitations, questionable areas. There are some in this treaty. We need to watch them for the future, but that does not mean that the treaty should be rejected."

"[F]or the United States at this juncture to fail to ratify the treaty in the due course of the Senate's deliberation would have a detrimental effect on our ability to influence others with regard to particularly the nonproliferation issue."

"[I]t is an overstatement to say that nothing in the treaty inhibits missile defense. I don't think that it inhibits missile defense in a serious way, however."

"I think all in all that the verification possibilities under this treaty, though much more limited than START I, are still adequate."

Linton F. Brooks, former START I negotiator, former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Bush administration; from his April 7, 2010, remarks:

"[Y]ou'll hear concerns by some that the treaty may or may not be a good idea but you can't possibly accept it because the U.S. nuclear weapons program is in disarray. And I think the administration's answer to that is the fiscal 2011 budget with a very substantial increase for my former home, the National Nuclear Security Administration. And I will say flatly, I ran that place for five years and I'd have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration and I just - nobody in government ever said 'my program has too much money' and I doubt that my successor is busy saying that. But he is very happy with his program and I think it does put us on a very firm, firm basis."

"The Russians may issue a statement saying that they have the right to withdraw if we deploy defenses to threaten the strategic balance. They issued such a statement in 1991; we issued a statement right back and both of them went into the dustbin of history. I think it would be - it is for the Senate to decide whether this treaty deserves ratification. I think it does. It would be tragic if we allowed Russian statements made for domestic purposes to derail it." - TOM COLLINA and VOLHA CHARNYSH


Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The Historical and Modern Context for U.S.-Russian Arms Control, April 29, 2010.

ACA Annual Meeting: Next Steps on Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction, April 26, 2010.

ACA Press Briefing: Understanding New START and the Nuclear Posture Review, April 7, 2010.