Kerry: New START Treaty One Year Later
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Washington, DC – This morning, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) delivered the following statement at a hearing that analyzed implementation of the New START Treaty to date. The Foreign Relations Committee held 12 hearings over several months before voting New START out of Committee in September 2010. The full Senate subsequently approved the treaty in December 2010, continuing a tradition of bipartisan support for strategic arms reduction accords that spans four administrations. The Treaty entered into force in February 2011.
“Frankly, those who say we should just walk away from New START – or who never supported it in the first place because of our differences with Russia – really have a fundamental responsibility which they have not fulfilled: which is explain to the American people how retaining more nuclear weapons than our military advisers say we need, and how having less insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, how that would change Russia’s calculus toward Syria or its approach to human rights – or any other issue. We need to see the logic of that,” said Sen. Kerry.
The full text of Chairman Kerry’s hearing statement, as delivered, is below:
Obviously evaluating the New START Treaty and debating its merits was a major undertaking here, and I’m very grateful to Secretary Gottemoeller, and to others, who contributed to what I thought was a very extensive and productive effort to evaluate that Treaty and to lay the groundwork to put a record together. We scrutinized it through months of open and classified hearings, hundreds of questions for the record, and more than a week of debate in the full Senate. Ultimately, the Committee supported it 14 to 4, and we passed it in the full Senate with 71 votes. I observed, along with a few others, that in today’s Washington, 71 is probably the old 95. But regardless, I’m proud that we sent a signal to the world that we remained committed to trying to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation.
Now it has been almost a year and a half since the Senate agreed to New START, and just over a year since it entered into force. So it’s appropriate at this juncture, to review how well the treaty is performing. We said we would do that, and we are doing it, and Senator Corker and Senator Isakson, particularly, made it clear that that was an important part of their willingness to be supportive, and we appreciate that, and want to respect all of the commitments that were made with respect to the Treaty. It’s important to me as Chairman, and to Senator Lugar who has spent a lifetime on this topic, that we do our due diligence.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. I just want to say a couple of quick things about it so maybe to help frame the discussion a little bit. I think there’s a very good story to be told.
First, the United States has already conducted 23 short-notice inspections of Russian nuclear weapons bases since the ratification – that’s pretty significant. On 23 occasions, teams of well-trained, well-prepared U.S. inspectors have—on short notice—brought radiation scanners and other equipment to highly sensitive Russian nuclear bases of our choosing. We depend on these short-notice inspections to verify that Russia has been telling us the truth about those facilities and the nuclear weapon systems they house. Thanks to New START, we get to do these inspections eighteen times a year for the next ten years.
Second, this treaty gives us visibility into Russia’s nuclear activities. Every six months, the United States receives a comprehensive database from Russia detailing where its strategic weapons systems are located and whether they are deployed, undergoing maintenance or being retired.
And that database doesn’t just sit there for six months. Between those six-month updates, we have received hundreds of notifications from the Russians on the numbers, locations, and technical characteristics of weapons systems and facilities that are subject to the treaty’s verification provisions. These notifications allow us to track movements and changes in the status of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. What that means in practice is that we now have far more up-to-date information on each Russian missile, each launcher, and each bomber than we had before we ratified the Treaty.
Despite the clear benefits to our security, there are some critics who nevertheless argue that we somehow we did Russia a favor by ratifying New START.
I think the facts just don’t support that.
First of all, we did not sign up to the New START Treaty as a favor to anybody, let alone Russia—any more than 95 United States Senators in 2003 – under President Bush – were doing a favor for Russia when they voted to support the Bush Administration’s Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.
Talk to former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. He certainly wasn’t seeking to do a favor when he supported New START—neither were the commanders of U.S. Strategic Command, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Brent Scowcroft, and Jim Schlesinger. The only question for them was whether the treaty benefited our national security. They thought it did, and as I said, 71 Senators agreed.
Frankly, those who say we should just walk away from New START – or who never supported it in the first place because of our differences with Russia – really have a fundamental responsibility which they have not fulfilled: which is explain to the American people how retaining more nuclear weapons than our military advisers say we need, and how having less insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, how that would change Russia’s calculus toward Syria or its approach to human rights – or any other issue. We need to see the logic of that.
Of course, when the Senate ratified New START, it also supported additional resources needed to maintain our own nuclear weapons infrastructure. Far from falling short on its commitments, the Administration has been working hard to provide increased support for the complex at a time when almost all other budgets are being slashed. Last year, the President requested what he said he would under the ten-year plan to fund the nuclear weapons complex. It was the House of Representatives that cut the funding below the request, not the President, and not the Senate. And this year, the President asked for another five percent increase for this budget over last year.
With that, I’d like to welcome our distinguished witnesses:
Rose Gottemoeller is well known to the Senate. She led the U.S. team that negotiated the Treaty as the Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance. She is back today as the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
Tom D’Agostino, the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security, he was also a familiar face around the Senate during the New START debate. He will address the status, challenges and plans for our nuclear weapons laboratories and other infrastructure.
Finally, Madelyn Creedon is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Security Affairs, where she oversees policy developments for U.S. nuclear forces and missile defenses. She is well known here for her service on the staff of the Armed Services Committee, and we welcome her back.
Thank you all for being here today. We look forward to your testimony and the opportunity to review where we are with respect to the New START Treaty.
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