Senator Kerry (D–MA) penned an op-ed in the Washington Post making the case that ratification of the New START Treaty is in the best interest of U.S. national security. His article is in response to former Governor Mitt Romney’s (R–MA) recent op-ed calling the treaty Obama’s biggest foreign policy mistake. Sen. Kerry refers to Mr. Romney’s objections as “uninformed” and “political” as he engages in a “footrace to the right against Sarah Palin.” Opposing this treaty is not political and there are several informed reasons to not support ratification.
1. Missile Defense
The Administration has stated from the beginning that this treaty in no way impedes upon missile defense. Then they backed off, admitting that Article V of the treaty prohibits conversion of ICBM launchers into missile defense launchers. Now, as the Senate continues to scrutinize the treaty it has become clear that the treaty as is limits ballistic missile defense test target missiles. As noted by Baker Spring, “Any missile defense target that includes the first stages of the specifically identified existing ICBMs and SLBMs or new ICBMs and SLBMs will be subject to restrictions—including the first stages of the Minuteman II and Peacekeeper ICBMs, despite the fact that they are retired.” That the treaty will impede upon America’s missile defense system is undeniable.
2. Less than Full Public Disclosure
Senator Kerry said there is a clear public record from 10 committee hearings outlining support for treaty ratification. What has not been made available to the Senate, however, is the most important document of all, the negotiating record. The Senate has a constitutional duty to fully vet any treaty, yet this Administration has consistently denied the Senate an opportunity to do so. Releasing this document is not without precedent. It was provided to the Democratic-controlled Senate under President Reagan. Given all that is at stake, this case clearly warrants the release of the negotiating records.
3. New START Will Make Nuclear Weapons More, Not Less, Important
The New START treaty is sending all the wrong messages to the international community. Instead of working toward a “world free of nuclear weapons,” the START Treaty encourages Russia as a nuclear power. It will make them more dependent on nuclear weapons as a way of keeping a seat at the table and driving more concessions from the United States. The negotiations were nothing but atomic diplomacy at its best. And who was watching? You guessed it, Iran and North Korea.
4. U.S. National Security Is Compromised
If we were really serious about cutting nukes we would have stuck with the more drastic limits imposed by the original treaty. Even with the modest cuts, the treaty does nothing to address tactical nuclear weapons, something the Russians have in vast supply. According to the bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, Russia holds a 10:1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons over the United States. Beyond this, the verification regime touted by the treaty’s staunchest supporters is less than robust. Out of the seven provisions in the original START treaty, only two have survived. Most worrisome are the elimination of restrictions on the encryption of telemetry as well as the reduction of both the number and effectiveness of on-the-ground inspections, both of which will severely decrease our knowledge of the Russian arsenal.
Overall, this treaty is nothing short of an effort to “re-set” U.S.-Russian relations. The only problem is that we are giving everything and getting nothing. Opposing this treaty is not political. It is right thing to do for America.