USA/Russland — New Treaty Will Ensure Stability, Flexibility

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)