The New START Treaty that Presidents Obama and Medvedev are going to sign tomorrow in Prague sets the stage for the big show, the April 12-13 non-proliferation summit in Washington.
Both events are deeply flawed. Both are theater productions for Obama to push through his unrealistic agenda of “getting to zero”, i.e. attempting to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
The New START is a déjà vu: in the 1980s, the Soviets threatened to withdraw from existing arms control treaties if US deployed missile defense. Now they are doing it again. Foreign Minister Lavrov is putting caveats on the New START. Lavrov clearly stated that the Kremlin reserves the right to withdraw from the Treaty if they deem missile defense deployment in Romania threatening.
Why should the US Senate ratify a “conditional” Treaty? If the Treaty is ratified, the US under Obama will not withdraw from it “only” if the Russians do, thus US would be committing to unilateral Treaty compliance, which may be against its national security interests.
Moreover, the new Nuclear Posture Review announces that the US will not develop new nuclear weapons. But Russia is doing so, and so are China, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea.
Will they stop only because Obama promised not to modernize? Hardly.
And what about missile defense? If the US deploys a more robust missile shield in Europe, as noted above, per Lavrov, Russia may abandon the New START. Experts say that Obama will be unlikely to upgrade missile defenses.
Is keeping the Russians in the New START a good enough reason not to do what is necessary to protect our NATO allies?
Beyond START, the Obama policy has more than a whiff of unreality. It is ambition enveloped in naïveté, wrapped in inexperience.
On April 12, over 40 heads of state will be extras in the Getting to Zero show, featuring Mr. Obama himself. However, the “getting to zero” nuclear policy naively and dangerously ignores the real nature of the world in which we live: Russian and Chinese nuclear modernizations, Iranian and North Korean atomic ambition, Pakistan’s instability, and the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Those who can’t deter, can be attacked.
The strategically flawed Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is only one Lego block in Obama’s non-proliferation agenda. In the future, his Administration will attempt to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and limit defense deployments in outer space, giving up a clear US technological edge.
The START and NPR make US allies worry. Offending US allies from Poland to Britain; from Canada to Azerbaijan to Israel; and placating Moscow, Beijing and Teheran, is a dangerous policy which will take years to set straight.
Voluntary abandonment of US power, nuclear and otherwise, may come back to haunt the US – and should not be allowed.