Senator Carl Levin (D–MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released an op-ed last week arguing that the new START Treaty is good for the U.S. and the world. This follows similar op-eds from Sen. John Kerry (D–MA) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R–IN). Given the number of such publications over the past couple of weeks, it is becoming clear that this treaty is finally getting the level of attention it deserves. It is also becoming increasingly evident that this Administration is worried the opposition voice is growing stronger.
In his article, Senator Levin argues this treaty sends all the right signals to the international community that America is serious about the threats posed by nuclear weapons. However, Levin fails to realize we have been serious about this commitment for decades and do not need a treaty to make it any clearer. The U.S. provides nuclear guarantees to 30 countries across the globe, which ultimately means these nations do not need to build arsenals of their own. This nation has already done more for non-proliferation than any treaty will be able to accomplish.
In fact, it is quite likely that the START treaty will only lead to a new arms race. As the U.S. will continue to reduce its weapons stockpile, Russia will modernize its nuclear arsenal and further develop its tactical nuclear weapons program, both of which are permitted under the new START treaty. The newly installed Russian First Deputy Defense Minister, Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin (Retired), has stated that his first procurement priority is Russia’s strategic deterrent, including its nuclear forces, the early warning system, and the air and air-space defenses. This will lead to greater instability in the region as both China and North Korea will seek to facilitate development of their weapons programs.
Senator Levin also tries the same line as the Administration by claiming that the treaty is focused on offensive weapons and therefore in no way limits U.S. missile defense. Nevertheless, such statements contradict plain facts. Article V of the treaty is a direct limitation on the missile defense system. As noted by Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and former U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation, “Initially, the Obama Administration gave numerous assurances that there would be no limitations on missile defenses in the treaty—‘no way, no how.’ Later, once the treaty text was made public, the line changed to ‘no meaningful’ limitations and ‘no constraints on current and planned’ programs.” Just because it is not in the plans now, however, doesn’t mean it may not be needed tomorrow. If this treaty is ratified, it will prevent the U.S. from making any progress on missile defense architecture for 10 years. This is unacceptable.
Opposition to the treaty is growing stronger each day. Heritage has recently assembled statements by 25 current and former government officials summarizing the dangers posed by the new START Treaty. As the potential dangers brought about by this treaty become more evident, hopefully the numbers will only grow larger.