The American Values Network has released a new online ad aimed at pressuring the Senate to pass the New START nuclear arms agreement with Russia in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress. The ad is a carbon copy of President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Daisy” ad, which equated a vote for Barry Goldwater with a vote for nuclear Armageddon. The new Daisy ad is no more based in reality. It claims, “Now no one watches nuclear weapons” and urges ratification of New START since “the stakes are too high for anything else.”

The truth is that the U.S. has never relied on treaty-based verification measures alone for insight into Russian strategic forces. Instead, it employs a variety of reconnaissance for gaining insight into Russian strategic forces. Furthermore, the verification regime in New START provides little value. New START has fewer on-site inspections, and Russia may declare certain locations to be maintenance areas, which are not subject to warhead inspection. And so long as the Russians continue to deny inspectors the ability to confirm the true number of warheads on a missile, such inspections are of little value.

But the treaty’s most serious impact is the limitations it imposes on the U.S. ballistic missile defense systems. The Obama Administration has sworn up and down that New START does not “contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs.” This is just plain false, as subsequent White House backtracking has established.

The fact is that both the treaty’s preamble and Russia’s unilateral statement at the signing of the treaty explicitly link missile defense and offensive nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Article V specifically limits our ability to convert ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers into defensive interceptors . Given the trends in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and rapid improvements in the means to deliver them (think Iran and North Korea), the U.S. government must maintain its right to defend the people, territory, institutions, and infrastructure of both the U.S. and its allies.

Watch the embedded 33 Minutes New Start trailer for a take on New START’s ramifications beyond Russia.

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