WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 — The new strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia “in no way limits” U.S. plans for missile defense or modernizing its nuclear arsenal, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined President Barack Obama at the White House today as the president announced findings of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review, released today.
After weeks of debate, the Senate voted yesterday to take up the arms reduction pact with Russia.
Gates acknowledged what he called “genuine concerns on the Hill” about the treaty’s effect on modernization of the U.S. nuclear enterprise, adding that misunderstandings existed about the pact’s effect on the U.S. ability to move forward on missile defense.
“I think that there were some legitimate concerns,” Gates said, “but frankly, I think they’ve been addressed.”
Cartwright called the pact “a relationship between our countries” and said that the treaty addresses much more than the nuclear issue.
“All the Joint Chiefs are very much behind this treaty because of the transparency [and] because of the reality that both the United States and Russia are going to have to recapitalize their nuclear arsenals,” he said. “To have transparency … to put structure to that activity, we need START, and we need it badly.”
A single approach to deterrence that depends on mutually assured destruction is no longer relevant in the 21st century, the general added. “We need this treaty in order to move in that direction,” he said.
The treaty, Clinton said, is worthy of Senate ratification, and not only on its own merits. “It is part of the effort that we see moving forward to bring Russia and Europe and the United States closer together,” she said, “to cooperate on the threats of the future, not to be looking back at the threats of the past.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)