Issue Report: New START Treaty

Is the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty a good idea?

The New START Treaty (for STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation that was signed in Prague on April 8, 2010. It is a follow-up to the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, and to START II and the 2002 Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. It has, however, been opposed by a number of Republican congressmen, lead by Jon Kyl (R-AZ), on the grounds that it does not allow for sufficient modernization of the US nuclear arsenal nor adequate flexibility on nuclear missile defense systems. Obama compromised by offering 80 billion over a decade toward nuclear modernization and argued aggressively that the treaty does not limit, and actually strengthens US missile defense. These and other arguments are outlined below.

Iran problem: Is New START key to addressing Iran problem?

Signing New START saves US-Russia relations for Iranian problem.

On Nov. 19, 2010, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement, which came from Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director: “The severe damage that could be inflicted on that relationship by failing to ratify the treaty would inevitably hamper effective American international leadership to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Iranian nuclear threat is the most serious national security issue facing the United States, Israel, and other allies in the Middle East. While some Senators may have legitimate reservations about the New START treaty or its protocol, we believe the interest of our greater and common goal of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons must take precedence.”

New START preserves Russian help on rogue states and loose nukes.

Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Colin L. Powell. "The Republican case for ratifying New START." Washington Post. December 2, 2010

“Although the United States needs a strong and reliable nuclear force, the chief nuclear danger today comes not from Russia but from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea and the potential for nuclear material to fall into the hands of terrorists. Given those pressing dangers, some question why an arms control treaty with Russia matters. It matters because it is in both parties’ interest that there be transparency and stability in their strategic nuclear relationship. It also matters because Russia’s cooperation will be needed if we are to make progress in rolling back the Iranian and North Korean programs. Russian help will be needed to continue our work to secure “loose nukes” in Russia and elsewhere. And Russian assistance is needed to improve the situation in Afghanistan, a breeding ground for international terrorism.”

New START in US interests AND valuable to US-Russia relations

Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Colin L. Powell. "The Republican case for ratifying New START." Washington Post. December 2, 2010

“Obviously, the United States does not sign arms control agreements just to make friends. Any treaty must be considered on its merits. But we have here an agreement that is clearly in our national interest, and we should consider the ramifications of not ratifying it.”

New START important to Russian cooperation on many issues.

Joseph Biden. "The case for ratifying New START." Wall Street Journal. November 25, 2010

“New Start is also a cornerstone of our efforts to reset relations with Russia, which have improved significantly in the last two years. This has led to real benefits for U.S. and global security. Russian cooperation made it possible to secure strong sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and Russia canceled a sale to Iran of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system that would have been dangerously destabilizing. Russia has permitted the flow of materiel through its territory for our troops in Afghanistan. And—as the NATO-Russia Council in Lisbon demonstrated—European security has been advanced by the pursuit of a more cooperative relationship with Russia. We should not jeopardize this progress.”

US should not sign New START to bribe Russia on Iran.

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA): “The particular complaints about New START, of which there are many, are waved aside. Instead, we are told that the real purpose of New START is to create a stronger U.S.-Russia bond in a broader international effort to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Such a justification is wrong. Iran’s nuclear ambitions are no secret; neither is Russia’s past efforts in aiding that program. We seriously question whether Russia is serious about stopping Iran, with or without New START. There is no reason why the United States should be required to sacrifice its own defense capabilities to inspire Russia to a greater degree of diplomatic fortitude. If Russia is indeed concerned with a nuclear-armed Iran to its immediate south, it should need no extra incentive to take the action necessary to stop it.”

New START would constrain new weapons and defense systems.

David Ganz, the president of JINSA to the Atlantic: “This treaty would restrain the development and deployment of new nuclear weapons, missile defense systems, and missile delivery systems.”

Reducing nuclear arms will not compel others to stop pursuing nukes.

Baker Spring. "Twelve Flaws of New START That Will Be Difficult to Fix." Heritage Foundation, The Foundry. September 16th, 2010

“the Obama Administration is clearly committed to a policy that asserts that for every neg­ative development in the area of nuclear prolifera tion the U.S. needs to take a substantive step in the direction of nuclear disarmament, and New START is a product of this misguided approach. Ultimately, this approach effectively assumes that the posses sion of nuclear arms by the U.S. is the incentive driving other nations to pursue nuclear weapons programs. Not only is the assumption misplaced, but the policy will undermine deterrence and increase the likelihood of the use of nuclear weap ons.[7] At some point, the Obama Administration will need to recognize that it is foolish for the U.S. to take substantive steps toward nuclear disarmament at the same time the nuclear proliferation problem is growing worse.”

New START reduces US deterrence in world that is arming, not disarming

Peter Brookes. "Not a New START, but a bad START." The Hill. September 13th, 2010

“Drawing down US Will a U.S. drawdown undermine American strategic deterrence, a bedrock of our defense policy in the nuclear age, encouraging other potential rivals to bolster their current or future arsenals? And in a world that is arming — not disarming — could these major reductions in our nuclear force create (or feed) an image of American weakness and decline, leading to misperception and miscalculation — and conflict? Obama sees it differently, believing U.S. leadership on disarmament (even unilateral) gives us greater moral standing in battling proliferation. But will others follow? Looking around the world, there’s no evidence of ‘denuclearization discipleship’ so far.”

Verification: Are New START's verification provisions important?

New START key to nuclear verification between US and Russia

Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Colin L. Powell. "The Republican case for ratifying New START." Washington Post. December 2, 2010

“the agreement emphasizes verification, providing a valuable window into Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Since the original START expired last December, Russia has not been required to provide notifications about changes in its strategic nuclear arsenal, and the United States has been unable to conduct on-site inspections. Each day, America’s understanding of Russia’s arsenal has been degraded, and resources have been diverted from national security tasks to try to fill the gaps. Our military planners increasingly lack the best possible insight into Russia’s activity with its strategic nuclear arsenal, making it more difficult to carry out their nuclear deterrent mission.”

New START is not adequately verifiable.

Baker Spring. "Twelve Flaws of New START That Will Be Difficult to Fix." Heritage Foundation, The Foundry. September 16th, 2010

“Flaw #11: New START is not adequately verifiable.[13] Compared to the expired START’s verification regime, the New START verification regime is signif icantly less robust, even though New START will drive the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal to lower levels. The specific areas that are significantly less robust include: A narrowing of the requirements for exchanging telemetry, A reduction in the effectiveness of the inspections, Weaknesses in the ability to verify the number of deployed warheads on ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), Abolition of the START verification regime gov erning mobile ICBMs, and A weakening of the verification standards gov erning the elimination of delivery vehicles.”

New START Treaty has loopholes for Russian nuclear weapons

Mitt Romney. "Stop START." December 3, 2010

“Does the treaty provide gaping loopholes that Russia could use to escape nuclear weapon limits entirely? Yes. For example, multiple warhead missile bombers are counted under the treaty as only one warhead. While we currently have more bombers than the Russians, they have embarked on new programs for long-range bombers and for air-launched nuclear cruise missiles. Thus, it is no surprise that Russia is happy to undercount missiles on bombers.”

Arms reduction: Is reducing nuclear arms wise?

Reducing US-Russian nuclear weapons makes for a safer world.

Dr. David P. "Security, Sin and Nuclear Weapons: A Christian Plea for the New START Treaty." Huffington Post. December 4th, 2010

“The issue on the table is a nuclear arms reduction and verification treaty between the United States and Russia. The treaty, called New START, would reduce Russian and American deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 and delivery vehicles to 700 each. This would be a 33 percent reduction in the existing arsenals, which is worth achieving and celebrating even as we know that countless cities and millions of precious human beings could be destroyed by the use of even part of the remaining arsenals. Still, these reductions would be a great step on the way to a safer world, as would the re-establishment of bilateral, intrusive verification measures for both sides, also part of the treaty.”

Russia will build-up nuclear arms without New START.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in an interview released in early December 2010 that Russia might be forced to build up its nuclear forces against the West if the United States fails to ratify the New START treaty.

New START is about national politics not interests.

George Will. "Obama's time-warp focus on the New START treaty." Washington Post. December 2nd, 2010

“The administration’s ardor for ratification is understandable, as is Russia’s. The president needs a success somewhere; Russia needs psychotherapy. It longs to be treated as what it no longer is, a superpower, and it likes the treaty’s asymmetries.”

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