Debating START Ratification

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is running a pro and con piece from two defense experts debating the ratification of the replacement of the START nuclear treaty with Russia.  The two seem to focus their disagreement on the weakened verification regime, rather than the procedural matter of the Senate being cut out of the foreign policy decision making loop.

On the pro, from Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton:

In today’s security environment, we must protect against the dual threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. With the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia accounting for nearly 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, the first step to nuclear security begins with New START.

The original START agreement expired Dec. 5, 2009, leaving the U.S. without the intrusive inspection and verification regime that allowed U.S. inspectors to monitor Russia’s nuclear arsenal for so many years.

The U.S. Senate should work to reinstate these verification provisions byratifying New START and getting U.S. boots back on the ground.

Without these measures, our strategic command loses its access to Russia’snuclear forces, and the predictability between the world’s two largestnuclear powers is called into question.

And on the con, Robert R. Monroe:

First, the treaty itself is a wholesale giveaway. Virtually every provisionlimits future U.S. strategic programs, while imposing no meaningfulrestrictions on Russia. For example, New START does not count the thousandsof Russian tactical nuclear weapons, including new ones, while it seriouslylimits two vital U.S. non-nuclear programs: missile defense and promptglobal strike. With regard to strategic delivery vehicles, New STARTrequires the U.S. to reduce existing and needed land- and sea-basedballistic missiles and bombers, while allowing Russia to increase theirs.

New START is unverifiable. It does not even include the same missileproduction monitoring, on-site inspections, and telemetry access of theSTART-I treaty it would replace. Moreover, it fails to count several typesof strategic nuclear weapons and it disregards President Reagan’s “trust,but verify” rule.

Secondly, and more important than the treaty, is the master plan behind it.President Obama’s new national policy for nuclear weapons totally reversesthe strong nuclear deterrence policy that has kept America safe since thedawn of the nuclear era. This revolution in nuclear matters is set forth inObama’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) of last April. It directs America tosubstitute a policy of nuclear weakness for one of strength, in the hopethat this will lead to “a world without nuclear weapons.” And he promised totake “concrete steps” to get us there.