For Immediate Release: April 30, 2014
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270, ext. 107; Tom Z. Collina, Arms Control Association, (202) 463-8270, ext. 104
(Washington, D.C.) A new bill introduced today by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a group of 20 Senate Republicans designed to respond to Russia's occupation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine unwisely threatens to unravel existing agreements with Russia that establish verifiable limits on nuclear arms, and provide information and transparency about Russian military behavior.
"Russia's behavior in Ukraine is deplorable and illegal and it deserves a strong, appropriate response. However, actions that block the implementation of the key treaty that limits Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal and other agreements that provide important intelligence information about Russian military capabilities are counterproductive and would undermine U.S. and international security," says Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the non-partisan Arms Control Association.
The Corker bill calls for:
- A plan to accelerate by two years "phase 3" of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for ballistic missile defense. Phase 3 currently calls for the introduction of SM-3 interceptors in Poland by 2018 (Sec 104, p. 11);
- A halt to further negotiations with Russia on nuclear reductions until Russia is in full compliance with other treaties, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (Sec. 205, p. 35);
- A halt to reductions in deployed or non-deployed U.S. "launchers" under the 2010 New START treaty so long as Russia threatens Ukraine (p. 35);
- Prohibiting overflights of U.S. territory by Russian aircraft under the 1992 Open Skies Treaty using new digital surveillance devices (p. 37).
"Unfortunately, it is Russia that is resisting further negotiations to reduce the still enormous U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals below New START levels of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers," said Tom Collina, ACA's research director.
"A halt to further implementation of New START and a withdrawal of U.S. efforts to further cut Russia's arsenal only helps strengthen President's Putin's position and would eliminate steps to reduce the number of Russian nuclear-armed missiles that can target the United States," Collina said.
"The on-the-ground inspections of Russian strategic forces under New START provides some of the highest value information available to the intelligence community on the status of Russia's nuclear forces and Moscow's compliance with the terms of the treaty. Why would we want to encourage non-compliance with any bilateral treaty (New START or Open Skies) with Russia and tempt disruption of this vital information flow?" said ACA Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann.
"Despite the severe differences with President Putin over Ukraine, it is clearly in our national interests to scrupulously implement and ensure compliance with existing arms control treaty verification measures, and to seek further reductions in the still oversized Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals," Thielmann said.
"With respect to missile defenses, none of the U.S. missile defense systems considered for deployment in Europe would be capable of defending Europe (or the United States) from Russian strategic forces. NATO should therefore maintain its steady course in implementing the first three phases of the EPAA, which do not include defenses against ICBMs, in response to evolving missile threats from the Middle East," said Collina.
"Clearly, the tensions over Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and meddling in other parts of Ukraine would be more difficult to manage without the limits, inspections, and transparency afforded by the existing nuclear risk reduction and confidence-building agreements now in force, including New START, Open Skies, INF, the Vienna Document of 2011," says Kimball.
"Congress and the President would be wise not to make a bad situation worse by giving Russia an excuse to pull back from any of these agreements," he said.
The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA partnered with a 21-member trilateral German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission established in 2013 to devise concepts on how to overcome current challenges to deep nuclear reductions.