Experts Applaud SFRC Vote on New START; Urge Prompt Senate Approval

For Immediate Release: Sept. 16, 2010

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director (202-463-8270 x107); Tom Collina, Research Director (x104); Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow (x103)

(Washington, D.C.) Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with strong bipartisan support, 14-4, opening the way for approval by the full Senate before it adjourns for the fall election, according to leading nuclear security and arms control experts.

“The bipartisan resolution of ratification approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee addresses all questions that have been raised in the previous weeks and months and provides a sound basis for overwhelming Senate approval for New START,” said ACA Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball.

The treaty, signed by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev in April, would mandate that both countries reduce their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals by 30 percent below current limits and reestablish intrusive on-site inspections that lapsed last December. But the new treaty cannot enter into force until it is approved by the full Senate.

“Momentum for New START is growing. National security leaders from both parties agree the treaty is important for U.S. security. There is no reason for delay. It is time for the Senate to do its job to strengthen U.S. security by approving New START,” Kimball said.

“It has been 285 days since New START’s predecessor, START I, expired,” said ACA Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann. “During that time, there hasn’t been a single American nuclear inspection in Russia. Existing satellite monitoring and other intelligence methods provide a rough picture of Russia’s nuclear forces. But they can’t provide certain crucial information — like the number of warheads inside a given missile — that on-site inspections can,” said Thielmann, a former senior staff member with the Senate Intelligence Committee and official with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

“Since the Reagan administration, every U.S.-Russian arms control treaty has been promptly approved by the Senate with broad bipartisan support,” said Amb. Avis Bohlen, who served as the U.S. representative to Bulgaria and was assistant secretary of state for arms control from 1999-2002. “There’s no reason why this accord should be any different. The Senate must approve New START with all due speed,” she said.

As Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a Senate speech on June 3, 2009 “…the Cold War ended almost twenty years ago, and the time has come to take further measures to reduce dramatically the number of nuclear weapons in the world's arsenals. In so doing, the United States can – and indeed, must – show the kind of leadership the world expects from us, in the tradition of American presidents who worked to reduce the nuclear threat to mankind.”

“It is time for Republicans and Democrats in Washington to come together once again in support of reducing the nuclear threat. We urge all Senators to put aside party politics and show the kind of leadership needed to reestablish the inspections for the U.S. and Russia to ‘trust, but verify’ and to reduce Russia’s still enormous nuclear stockpile,” said Kimball.

Attempts by Senators to further delay consideration of New START in order to extract further increases in spending on the nuclear arsenal would be misguided and fiscally irresponsible," Kimball said. The administration has already outlined an $80 billion, ten-year plan to modernize the weapons complex and continue to refurbish existing warhead types (a 15 percent increase over current levels), and spend another $100 billion over the same period to modernize and replace strategic nuclear delivery systems.

"The U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories have more than enough resources to maintain the reliability of all current warhead types through the ongoing Life Extension Program (LEP). New-design warheads and the renewal of nuclear testing are technically unnecessary and would undermine U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts," Kimball noted.

For more information and news on New START, see:

Nationwide Editorial Support for New START

Twelve Reasons to Support New START

278 Days Without On-Site Inspections: Time for New START