Obama and Medvedev sign new START

In an interview with National Journal (subscription necessary) Senator Richard Lugar (R–IN), responds to a series of objections to the new START Treaty and outlines why he believes ratification is necessary.

Sen. Lugar addresses the question of tactical nuclear weapons, yet gives a less than satisfactory response. He states, “A large percentage of Russia’s short-range tactical weapons are actually deployed along its border with China.” While he states a problem, he ultimately fails to connect the dots.

By not addressing Russia’s tactical arsenal, the START treaty allows Russia to continue relying on these weapons, which will foster greater instability in the region. China likely will respond by increasing the size of its program. This result is clearly undesirable.

On verification, Sen. Lugar proves to be even more perplexing. He notes, “START I verification was really about making sure that neither side was cheating, and avoiding a breakthrough that could have changed the strategic balance. The new START reflects the fact that the Russians are now really looking for stability, and they want to avoid a race to greater numbers of nuclear weapons.” The only problem is that under START I, as noted by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Verification and Compliance, it is clear that Russia cheated. If the new START Treaty is less about detecting cheating (which is obvious, given the reduction of on-the-ground inspections and overall rigor in verification procedures), there is much to worry about if this treaty is ratified.

Many of the problems with this treaty can be addressed by viewing the negotiating history of new START. Not only is there precedent for seeing negotiation records, but in the past such viewing has led to very important changes being made to the final product. Mr. Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, in an event at Heritage entitled “Will Obama’s Arms Control Agenda Stop with New START?,” demonstrated the benefits of having the negotiating records available for Senate consideration. He personally saw the records of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which led to the discovery that there was no precise definition of what an “INF missile” actually was in the treaty. This led to a subsequent meeting between the U.S. and Russia to provide a precise definition regarding exactly what was being banned by the treaty. A similar examination of the new START negotiation record will clarify the language in the preamble regarding offensive vs. defensive capabilities and determine whether that language affects the U.S. missile defense system.

This treaty impacts the very foundation of our national security. The Senate must not rush this debate.

Ricky Trotman is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm