Gates: New START Treaty Accommodates U.S. Plans

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)

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