FOX News reports:

Russia and the United States have tentatively agreed to a weapons inspection program that would allow Russians to visit nuclear sites in America to count missiles and warheads.

The plan, which Fox News has learned was agreed to in principle during negotiations, would constitute the most intrusive weapons inspection program the U.S. has ever accepted.

Initial thoughts:

  • The description reported in the press of what has been agreed to is way too vague to know whether there would be a significant security risk.
  • What we know for sure is that the administration is dead wrong in how its approaching verification and transparency issues. These should be negotiated as a protocol to the existing Moscow Treaty and not negotiated through a START follow-on treaty (which requires unrealistic deadlines for signature, ratification and entry into force before the December 5th expiration of START). Pushing for agreements in a slap-dash fashion risks getting really complex negotiations wrong.
  • Before agreeing to new verification and transparency measures the administration should first recognize that Russia has violated the existing such measures under START in multiple ways and on numerous occasions (cataloged in the August 2005 report “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” released by the Department of State). It makes no sense to give new concessions when the Russians are not playing by the existing rules.
  • The administration’s unrealistic rush to negotiate new arms control agreements should give the Senate pause. At a minimum the Senate should insist on a lengthy and thorough review before even thinking about ratification.