Gates Urges Ratification of U.S.-Russia Arms Treaty

SANTIAGO, Chile, Nov. 20, 2010 — “Seri­ous con­se­quences” could result if the Sen­ate fails to rat­i­fy the Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty between the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today.
Gates spoke at a news con­fer­ence with Chilean Defense Min­is­ter Jaime Ravinet after the two defense lead­ers met at the Gen. Bernar­do O’Higgins Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my.

The sec­re­tary said the con­se­quences of fail­ure to rat­i­fy the treaty have not received ade­quate atten­tion.

“First, and the one we’ve spo­ken of most fre­quent­ly, is the absence of any abil­i­ty to con­duct on-site inspec­tions in Rus­sia,” the sec­re­tary said. “We have been with­out this abil­i­ty and the ver­i­fi­ca­tion mea­sures that have been devel­oped in pre­vi­ous strate­gic agree­ments with the Rus­sians in terms of ver­i­fy­ing what their capa­bil­i­ties are and mon­i­tor­ing, keep­ing track of, their strate­gic devel­op­ments.”

Fail­ure to rat­i­fy the treaty could have polit­i­cal con­se­quences for the rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia, Gates said.

“It isn’t just lim­it­ed to this nar­row sub­ject, but reflects on the rela­tion­ship as a whole,” he said. “And the truth of the mat­ter is the Rus­sians, in the last year or two, have been very coop­er­a­tive, first of all, help­ing us estab­lish the North­ern Dis­tri­b­u­tion Net­work to help sup­ply Afghanistan, includ­ing a recent deci­sion at my request to allow us to move these mine-resis­tant, ambush-pro­tect­ed vehi­cles – MRAPs – across Rus­sia.” In addi­tion, the sec­re­tary said, the Rus­sians also sup­port­ed the recent U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion on Iran.

The inter­nal polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia could change if the treaty fails, he added, which could affect the lev­el of Russ­ian coop­er­a­tion in oth­er mat­ters.

“These are all unknowns, but I think [they are] poten­tial wor­ries if the treaty isn’t rat­i­fied,” Gates said. “The real­i­ty is — despite what any­body says — I, as sec­re­tary of defense, and the entire uni­formed lead­er­ship of the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary believe that this treaty is in our nation­al secu­ri­ty inter­est.”

The sec­re­tary said the nation’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship believes the treaty doesn’t lim­it the Unit­ed States’ abil­i­ty to deploy mis­sile defense sys­tems or to move for­ward in oth­er ways. “Any­thing that we have in mind now or in the years to come – that we have even thought of – is not pro­hib­it­ed,” he said. “And at the same time, [the treaty] does con­tin­ue to pro­vide pre­dictabil­i­ty in terms of strate­gic deploy­ments on both sides. It doesn’t lim­it us when it comes to prompt glob­al strike.” The treaty also brings sup­port for mod­ern­iza­tion of the U.S. nuclear enter­prise, Gates said.

“I think the fail­ure to rat­i­fy the treaty puts that at high risk,” he added. “There would be sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences in the fail­ure to rat­i­fy the new START treaty.” Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma used his week­ly address to the nation today to address START rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“With­out rat­i­fi­ca­tion this year, the Unit­ed States will have no inspec­tors on the ground, and no abil­i­ty to ver­i­fy Russ­ian nuclear activ­i­ties,” the pres­i­dent said. “So those who would block this treaty are break­ing Pres­i­dent [Ronald] Reagan’s rule – they want to trust, but not ver­i­fy.

“With­out rat­i­fi­ca­tion,” he con­tin­ued, “we put at risk the coali­tion that we have built to put pres­sure on Iran, and the tran­sit route through Rus­sia that we use to equip our troops in Afghanistan. And with­out rat­i­fi­ca­tion, we risk undo­ing decades of Amer­i­can lead­er­ship on nuclear secu­ri­ty, and decades of bipar­ti­san­ship on this issue. Our secu­ri­ty and our posi­tion in the world are at stake.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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