Obama and Medvedev sign new START

On Tuesday, March 2, arms control experts met at The Heritage Foundation’s conference “New START: What We Now Know and What’s Next.” They discussed the lessons learned with regards to future arms control negotiations.

The Honorable Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute explained the rationale behind New START negotiations, which were centered on an outdated Cold War approach focusing on the nuclear arsenal of the two superpowers. This approach is no longer relevant, because the threat the United States faces today is different and does not come from the Russian first strike capability but from Iran or North Korea. Perle concluded that the United States was better off without New START because it has the potential to limit U.S. missile defense while not addressing Russia’s manifold advantage in tactical nuclear weapons.

Kim Holmes, Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies and Director of the Davis Institute for International Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, endorsed Perle’s point that the “nuclear zero” rationale behind New START does not make sense. The treaty does nothing to deter or prevent Iran and other proliferators from building nuclear weapons. In addition, the treaty has not changed the Russian refusal to negotiate tactical nuclear weapons. The treaty is immensely one-sided and prevents future Administrations from developing the most efficient ballistic missile defenses possible.

Baker Spring, F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation, provided insight to future arms control negotiations of this Administration. The next arms control treaty will likely cover only numbers of delivery vehicles, not deployed nuclear warheads, in which Moscow has strategic advantage. The treaty could also restrict modernization, which would be an advantage to the Russians, since they, unlike the U.S., are engaged in a robust modernization program of their strategic forces and currently have newer systems deployed.

In addition, the current Administration seems to be willing to sacrifice U.S. allies’ national security as well. The recent cables show that the Obama Administration provided the Russians with information about British nuclear weapons. Ted Bromund, Senior Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation, emphasized that it is not clear whether the U.S. Senate or the British knew what kind of information the United States would provide to the Russians under the terms of the treaty. A review of negotiating records would provide the answer to this question, but the Obama Administration made sure that these documents would not be released. In addition, the image of the U.K. being only a puppet for the United States has the potential to damage the image of the United States in the Middle East or in other parts of the world. The U.S. and its allies’ national security interests must take a priority when estimating whether the U.S. should enter arms control agreements with other nations.

Co-authored by Haley Parks. Parks 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