Mullen Makes Military’s Case for START Ratification

PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 12, 2010 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today deliv­ered the mil­i­tary argu­ment for Sen­ate rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty and talked about the future of deter­rence.
Speak­ing at Stan­ford University’s Hoover Insti­tu­tion, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said “the stars may have aligned” to pass the new START pact the Unit­ed States nego­ti­at­ed with Rus­sia.

“Deter­rence today is tougher and more com­plex. More than one nation can now reach out and touch us with nuclear mis­siles,” Mullen said to a star-stud­ded audi­ence that includ­ed for­mer sec­re­taries of state George Shultz, Con­doleez­za Rice and Hen­ry Kissinger, and for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Per­ry. “Amer­i­cans are poten­tial tar­gets of ter­ror­ism wher­ev­er they trav­el, and region­al insta­bil­i­ty in sev­er­al places around the globe could eas­i­ly erupt into large-scale con­flict.

“Yet, we have done pre­cious lit­tle spade­work to advance the the­o­ry of deter­rence,” he con­tin­ued, not­ing the lack of seri­ous dis­cus­sion on deter­rence since the end of the Cold War. “It is as if we all breathed a col­lec­tive sigh of relief when the Sovi­et Union col­lapsed and said to our­selves, ‘Well, I guess we don’t need to wor­ry about that any­more.’ We were wrong. The demands of deter­rence evolve.”

The new treaty will help with the dis­cus­sion, Mullen said, and the time is right. The stars are align­ing for pas­sage, he added.

“A flood of Sovi­et troops into Afghanistan dis­solved sup­port for SALT II in the Unit­ed States, where­as the fall of the Berlin Wall and lat­er the Sovi­et Union may well have has­tened the sign­ing and rat­i­fi­ca­tion of START,” Mullen said. “Today, we lack a sim­i­lar treaty with Rus­sia. In fact, we haven’t had one for almost a year now. But the arms buildup in the after­math of SALT II’s dis­in­te­gra­tion high­lights the neces­si­ty for some sort of under­stand­ing, some sort of ver­i­fi­able reduc­tion and mon­i­tor­ing regime.”

It is in the inter­est of both the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia to rat­i­fy this treaty, the chair­man told the audi­ence. From the mil­i­tary aspect, the new START treaty “allows us to retain a strong and flex­i­ble Amer­i­can nuclear deter­rent,” Mullen said.

“It strength­ens open­ness and trans­paren­cy in our rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia,” he added.

The treaty also demon­strates America’s com­mit­ment to nuclear arms reduc­tions, Mullen said. “I am con­vinced that New START — per­mit­ting us as it does 1,550 aggre­gate war­heads and the free­dom to cre­ate our own force pos­ture with­in that lim­it – leaves us with more than enough nuclear deter­rent capa­bil­i­ty for the world we live in,” he explained.

Mullen said he’s con­vinced the treaty pre­serves the nuclear tri­ad and retains U.S. flex­i­bil­i­ty to con­tin­ue deploy­ing con­ven­tion­al glob­al strike capa­bil­i­ties.

“I am also con­vinced that the ver­i­fi­ca­tion regime is as strin­gent as it is trans­par­ent, and borne of more than 15 years of lessons learned under the orig­i­nal START treaty,” he said.

The new treaty pro­vides for 18 inspec­tions annu­al­ly, and for shar­ing data con­cern­ing the num­bers, loca­tions and tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of sys­tems sub­ject to the treaty, the admi­ral not­ed.

“In oth­er words, we’ll know a lot more about Russ­ian sys­tems and inten­tions than we do right now,” he said. “And as I have said many times, in many dif­fer­ent con­texts, in this fast-paced, flat­ter world of ours, infor­ma­tion, and the trust it engen­ders, is every bit as much a deter­rent as any weapon we deploy.”

Because he wor­ries about “what I don’t know and what I can’t see,” Mullen said, the treaty’s inspec­tion pro­vi­sions are crit­i­cal.

“So, I believe, and the rest of the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship in this coun­try believes, that this treaty is essen­tial to our future secu­ri­ty,” said the chair­man told the audi­ence. “I believe it enhances and ensures that secu­ri­ty. And I hope the Sen­ate will rat­i­fy it quick­ly.”

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

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