USA — Defense Department Leaders Urge Treaty Ratification

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2010 — Senior Defense Depart­ment lead­ers strong­ly sup­port the new Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty, both for what it does and what it doesn’t do, a defense offi­cial said yes­ter­day.
James N. Miller, prin­ci­pal deputy under sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, detailed the department’s posi­tion on the treaty at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion here.

“The senior lead­ers of the mil­i­tary under­stand the treaty well, because DOD focused in detail on what we want­ed from the treaty as we con­duct­ed the nuclear pos­ture review,” he said.

The new treaty strength­ens strate­gic sta­bil­i­ty with Rus­sia, pro­vides the Unit­ed States flex­i­bil­i­ty to retain and mod­ern­ize robust mis­sile deliv­ery sys­tems, and advances U.S. secu­ri­ty inter­ests includ­ing non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, Miller said.

New START strength­ens U.S.-Russia strate­gic sta­bil­i­ty by impos­ing equal lim­its on their strate­gic deliv­ery sys­tems and nuclear war­heads, and by rein­sti­tut­ing ver­i­fi­ca­tion mea­sures, he said.

“Those lim­its are 700 deployed strate­gic deliv­ery vehi­cles, 800 com­bined deployed and non­de­ployed deliv­ery vehi­cles, and 1,550 account­able strate­gic war­heads, equal lim­its for both sides,” he said.

The Unit­ed States and Rus­sia have lacked mutu­al ver­i­fi­ca­tion mea­sures on strate­gic nuclear weapons and deliv­ery sys­tems since Dec. 5 of last year when the pre­vi­ous START treaty expired.

“Since that time, the Unit­ed States has had no boots on the ground for inspec­tions of Russ­ian [inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile] bases, bomber bases and oth­er facil­i­ties,” Miller said. “And [new START’s] data col­lec­tion pro­vi­sions and exchange pro­vi­sions will give us impor­tant insights into Russ­ian strate­gic forces.” With­out ver­i­fied infor­ma­tion about Russ­ian strate­gic forces, he said, the mil­i­tary will have to rely much more on worst-case plan­ning, which would be both expen­sive and poten­tial­ly desta­bi­liz­ing.

The flex­i­bil­i­ty new START pro­vides, Miller said, is “that it allows us to choose our own force mix and to mod­ern­ize our forces.” The department’s Nuclear Pos­ture Review, con­duct­ed in par­al­lel with treaty nego­ti­a­tions, “drove our nego­ti­at­ing posi­tions on the treaty’s key lim­its,” he said. The treaty allows U.S. reten­tion of its 14 strate­gic bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­marines, which Miller called “the most sur­viv­able” of the nation’s strate­gic deliv­ery sys­tems. Land-based mis­siles and nuclear- or dual-capa­ble bombers form the oth­er two legs of the strate­gic nuclear weapon deliv­ery “tri­ad,” Miller said, adding that, togeth­er, the three sys­tems “pro­vide for strong deter­rence of any attack on the Unit­ed States or our allies.”

While U.S. offi­cials agreed under the treaty to lim­it the num­ber of war­heads car­ried by those sys­tems, in the case of a breach of the treaty, “the Unit­ed States has the capa­bil­i­ty to upload a large num­ber of addi­tion­al war­heads,” he said, “so that Rus­sia could gain no real or per­ceived advan­tage.”

The third DOD objec­tive the treaty accom­plish­es is advanc­ing broad­er U.S. inter­ests, Miller said, includ­ing nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, progress on tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon agree­ments and sus­tain­ing momen­tum in U.S.-Russia rela­tions.

“The biggest nuclear threat today is not from Rus­sia, but from the dan­ger of nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion and the poten­tial for nuclear ter­ror­ism,” he said. “Rat­i­fy­ing new START and mak­ing the asso­ci­at­ed reduc­tions is key to meet­ing our oblig­a­tions under the Nuclear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty. This will help us strength­en the coali­tion to pre­vent Iran from devel­op­ing a nuclear capa­bil­i­ty and help us pre­vent pro­lif­er­a­tion in the future.”

An agree­ment on tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons like­wise rests on adop­tion of the new treaty, Miller said, adding, “It is high­ly unlike­ly that we will get to those nego­ti­a­tions if new START is not rat­i­fied.”

New START is a link in the chain of recent suc­cess­es in U.S.-Russia rela­tions, Miller said, cit­ing the Russ­ian deci­sion not to sell the S-300 anti-air­craft mis­sile to Iran, and its agree­ment allow­ing the Unit­ed States to move key sup­plies for Afghanistan through Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry.

What the treaty won’t do, Miller said, is con­strain the Unit­ed States from deploy­ing the best mis­sile defens­es pos­si­ble, lim­it the nation’s abil­i­ty to devel­op con­ven­tion­al prompt glob­al strike capa­bil­i­ties, or impair its abil­i­ty to invest in the nuclear-weapons com­plex and infra­struc­ture.

“Just a few weeks ago, NATO endorsed our pro­pos­al for ter­ri­to­r­i­al mis­sile defense of Europe, the first time NATO has tak­en on this mis­sion,” he said. “The admin­is­tra­tion plans to deploy all four phas­es of the so-called phased adap­tive approach for Euro­pean mis­sile defense … and [we] are mak­ing invest­ments and plans accord­ing­ly.”

With mis­sile defense assured, Miller said, DOD is exam­in­ing alter­na­tive con­cepts for future prompt glob­al strike sys­tems not lim­it­ed by the treaty, such as the hyper­son­ic glide vehi­cle.

“These sys­tems have a num­ber of advan­tages, includ­ing the abil­i­ty to steer around coun­tries to avoid over­flight,” he said. While it hasn’t reached final deci­sion, the depart­ment plans to invest more than a bil­lion dol­lars in research and devel­op­ment on con­ven­tion­al prime glob­al strike over the next sev­er­al years, he said.

Final­ly, new START doesn’t impair U.S. abil­i­ty to invest in its nuclear-weapons com­plex and infra­struc­ture, Miller reit­er­at­ed. “We plan to invest more than $85 bil­lion over the next decade to mod­ern­ize the U.S. nuclear-weapons com­plex that sup­ports our deter­rent,” he said. “This lev­el of fund­ing is nec­es­sary, and it’s unprece­dent­ed since the end of the Cold War.”

“For what the treaty does and for what the treaty does not do, it’s sup­port­ed by the sec­re­tary of defense, as I said, all the joint chiefs and the com­man­der, U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand,” Miller said. “Our NATO allies also expressed strong sup­port for new START at the Lis­bon sum­mit a few weeks ago. And final­ly, every pres­i­dent for the last sev­er­al decades has pur­sued ver­i­fi­able arms-con­trol agree­ments, and the Sen­ate has pro­vid­ed sup­port.”

Miller said the START treaty, nego­ti­at­ed by pres­i­dents Ronald Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush, was approved in 1992 by 93 votes to 6. The Moscow Treaty, nego­ti­at­ed by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, was approved by 95 to 0 in 2003.

“It’s time again, and DOD and the entire Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion are urg­ing the Sen­ate to give its advice and con­sent to rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new START treaty this year,” Miller said.

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

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