Defense Department Leaders Urge Treaty Ratification
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2010 Senior Defense Department leaders strongly support the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, both for what it does and what it doesn’t do, a defense official said yesterday.
James N. Miller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, detailed the department’s position on the treaty at the Brookings Institution here.
“The senior leaders of the military understand the treaty well, because DOD focused in detail on what we wanted from the treaty as we conducted the nuclear posture review,” he said.
The new treaty strengthens strategic stability with Russia, provides the United States flexibility to retain and modernize robust missile delivery systems, and advances U.S. security interests including nonproliferation, Miller said.
New START strengthens U.S.-Russia strategic stability by imposing equal limits on their strategic delivery systems and nuclear warheads, and by reinstituting verification measures, he said.
“Those limits are 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, 800 combined deployed and nondeployed delivery vehicles, and 1,550 accountable strategic warheads, equal limits for both sides,” he said.
The United States and Russia have lacked mutual verification measures on strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems since Dec. 5 of last year when the previous START treaty expired.
“Since that time, the United States has had no boots on the ground for inspections of Russian [intercontinental ballistic missile] bases, bomber bases and other facilities,” Miller said. “And [new START’s] data collection provisions and exchange provisions will give us important insights into Russian strategic forces.”
Without verified information about Russian strategic forces, he said, the military will have to rely much more on worst-case planning, which would be both expensive and potentially destabilizing.
The flexibility new START provides, Miller said, is “that it allows us to choose our own force mix and to modernize our forces.”
The department's Nuclear Posture Review, conducted in parallel with treaty negotiations, “drove our negotiating positions on the treaty's key limits,” he said.
The treaty allows U.S. retention of its 14 strategic ballistic missile submarines, which Miller called “the most survivable” of the nation’s strategic delivery systems.
Land-based missiles and nuclear- or dual-capable bombers form the other two legs of the strategic nuclear weapon delivery “triad,” Miller said, adding that, together, the three systems “provide for strong deterrence of any attack on the United States or our allies.”
While U.S. officials agreed under the treaty to limit the number of warheads carried by those systems, in the case of a breach of the treaty, “the United States has the capability to upload a large number of additional warheads,” he said, “so that Russia could gain no real or perceived advantage.”
The third DOD objective the treaty accomplishes is advancing broader U.S. interests, Miller said, including nuclear nonproliferation, progress on tactical nuclear weapon agreements and sustaining momentum in U.S.-Russia relations.
“The biggest nuclear threat today is not from Russia, but from the danger of nuclear proliferation and the potential for nuclear terrorism,” he said. “Ratifying new START and making the associated reductions is key to meeting our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This will help us strengthen the coalition to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear capability and help us prevent proliferation in the future.”
An agreement on tactical nuclear weapons likewise rests on adoption of the new treaty, Miller said, adding, “It is highly unlikely that we will get to those negotiations if new START is not ratified.”
New START is a link in the chain of recent successes in U.S.-Russia relations, Miller said, citing the Russian decision not to sell the S-300 anti-aircraft missile to Iran, and its agreement allowing the United States to move key supplies for Afghanistan through Russian territory.
What the treaty won’t do, Miller said, is constrain the United States from deploying the best missile defenses possible, limit the nation’s ability to develop conventional prompt global strike capabilities, or impair its ability to invest in the nuclear-weapons complex and infrastructure.
“Just a few weeks ago, NATO endorsed our proposal for territorial missile defense of Europe, the first time NATO has taken on this mission,” he said. “The administration plans to deploy all four phases of the so-called phased adaptive approach for European missile defense … and [we] are making investments and plans accordingly.”
With missile defense assured, Miller said, DOD is examining alternative concepts for future prompt global strike systems not limited by the treaty, such as the hypersonic glide vehicle.
“These systems have a number of advantages, including the ability to steer around countries to avoid overflight,” he said.
While it hasn’t reached final decision, the department plans to invest more than a billion dollars in research and development on conventional prime global strike over the next several years, he said.
Finally, new START doesn’t impair U.S. ability to invest in its nuclear-weapons complex and infrastructure, Miller reiterated.
“We plan to invest more than $85 billion over the next decade to modernize the U.S. nuclear-weapons complex that supports our deterrent,” he said. “This level of funding is necessary, and it's unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.”
“For what the treaty does and for what the treaty does not do, it's supported by the secretary of defense, as I said, all the joint chiefs and the commander, U.S. Strategic Command,” Miller said. “Our NATO allies also expressed strong support for new START at the Lisbon summit a few weeks ago. And finally, every president for the last several decades has pursued verifiable arms-control agreements, and the Senate has provided support.”
Miller said the START treaty, negotiated by presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was approved in 1992 by 93 votes to 6. The Moscow Treaty, negotiated by President George W. Bush, was approved by 95 to 0 in 2003.
“It's time again, and DOD and the entire Obama administration are urging the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of the new START treaty this year,” Miller said.