WASHINGTON, June 16, 2010 — The Defense Department stands firmly behind the new Strategic Arms Control and National Security Treaty, which strengthens strategic stability, enables the United States to modernize its triad of strategic delivery systems and protects its flexibility to deploy important nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities, a senior defense official told Congress yesterday.
The treaty, which President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed April 8 in Prague, is framed to address specific Defense Department issues, Edward Warner, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ representative to the post-START negotiations, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Nothing in the new Strategic Arms Control and National Security Treaty will constrain the United States from developing and deploying the most effective missile defenses possible to protect the homeland, its forces abroad and its partners and allies, he said.
“Protecting our ability to develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses possible was one of the most important U.S. objectives during the treaty negotiations, and we did so,” Warner said.
The new START treaty won’t limit the United States’ ability to pursue its current and planned ballistic missile defense program, he told the committee. The one exception would be a ban on the conversion of launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles or sea-launched ballistic missiles for use as missile defense interceptor launchers, or vice versa.
The treaty also will allow the United States to develop defenses to protect the U.S. homeland from limited missile attack and its partners and allies from growing regional ballistic missile threats, Warner said.
He assured the committee that the treaty will not impose additional costs or burdens on these missile defense efforts.
In negotiating a new treaty to replace the START treaty that expired in April 2009, the United States also sought to limit and reduce U.S. and Russian strategic offensive arms, Warner said, while at the same time preserving strategic stability that provides predictability and an effective verification system.
The treaty also affords the United States the freedom to deploy, maintain and modernize its forces, he said.
Warner noted the Defense Department’s plan to invest more than $100 billion over the next decade to sustain and modernize its strategic nuclear delivery systems. The Energy Department also plans to invest more than $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile and the nuclear weapons complex that supports it, he said.
The administration also was intent on protecting the United States’ ability to develop and deploy conventional prompt global strike systems, Warner told the panel. The Defense Department’s leadership is confident that provisions in the treaty accommodate those requirements for the treaty’s 10-year lifetime, he said.
Warner also expressed support for the verification framework encompassed in the treaty, which provides both parties up to 18 short-notice, on-site inspections each year.
Speaking from a military perspective, Warner called verification “very, very important.” He noted that current information becomes increasingly dated with each passing day.
“The insights that are available to us [with verification procedures in place] cannot be overestimated,” he said. “We need to get back into the position where we will have those insights available to us.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)