Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join our esteemed chairman, Senator Lugar, in presenting the Senate this resolution giving the Senate's advice and consent to ratification of the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, known in the vernacular as the Moscow Treaty. Let me state flatly at the outset, I urge my colleagues to support the treaty.
On February 5, as Senator Lugar noted, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee approved this resolution unanimously. The committee did so, in my view, for two very good reasons.
First, the Moscow Treaty should be ratified and implemented. It is true that there is much that the Moscow Treaty does not do, which I will discuss at some length. But virtually all of the witnesses at our hearing recommended the ratification of the treaty because its implementation would be a step toward a more secure world. Reducing each nation's deployed strategic warheads from approximately 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200, in my view, will move us further away from the cold war era and mayI emphasize mayand I hope promote a United States-Russian relationship based upon mutual cooperation.
Second, in my view, while the resolution does not include everything we may want, it does address many of our concerns. It requires significant annual reporting by the executive branch on implementation of the treaty so that the Senate can oversee and support that implementation. These are important gains from an administration that first opposed any treaty at all and then pressed for a clean resolution of ratification. The administration has agreed to support and implement this resolution before the Senate. I think the country will benefit from that.
But there is much the Moscow Treaty does not do. So in the spirit of not engaging in false advertisement, I think we should speak about that a little bit. It is very unusual, at least in my 30 years as a Senator working on many arms control agreements from the Senate perspective, that an arms control agreement by any standard be put forward the way in which this one has.
In our hearings, the Secretary of Defense proudly compared the three pages of this treaty to the roughly 300 pages of the START treaty signed by the first President Bush. But that is just the beginning. Traditional arms control agreements usually involve the negotiated level of arms to which the parties will be held. They usually require the destruction of some weapons. Often they specify milestones that must be achieved in reducing those arms and bar withdrawal from the treaty unless there is a good reason to withdraw and the President gives or the other side gives 6 months notice.
For decades, there has been emphasis on verifying that each party is complying with its obligations. We remember the famous phrase uttered by former President Reagan: Trust but verify.
In addition, the United States worked to ban MIRV ICBMs in the START II treaty. I know the Presiding Officer knows, but for those who may be listening, the MIRV'd ICBM is a single missile, a single rocket upon which multiple nuclear warheads sit and when the rocket goes off and the head of the missile comes off, it contains more than one nuclear warhead, and you can independently target each of those nuclear warheads, in the vernacular.
So we have thought for years and years, these are the most destabilizing weapons that existed, and we worked very hard, and the first President Bush worked very hard, to eliminate either side being able to possess these multiple warhead missiles with independently targeted warheads. It was contained in the START II treaty.
We were hoping in START III to control tactical nuclear weapons. They are the weapons that are shorter range and are used at shorter distances, referred to as tactical nuclear weapons. We had hoped to have a de-alerting of weapons slated for later elimination.
That is, the purpose we initially started off with was: Look, if we are agreeing we are going to get rid of these weapons, while we are going through the process of destroying them or taking them out of the silos or out of the bellies of submarines or out of the bellies of bombers, what we will do is we will de-alert them. That is, we will pull the plug. They will sit there, but they will not be aimed at anybody. They will not be on alert.
So for the longest time our objective, for stability reasons and for security reasons, was to get rid of multiple warheads, to make sure we move to include tactical nuclear weapons which are destabilizing so we begin to reduce them and, third, to say while we are getting ready to destroy these weapons, or take them out of the inventory, we will de-alert them. That is, not keep them on a hair trigger.
None of these objectives was achieved, or for that matter attempted, in the Moscow Treaty we are about to ratifyI hope ratify.
For starters, the United States unilaterally set this treaty's arms control levels before any negotiation. Indeed, the administration saw no particular reason for this treaty in the first place. Initially they said they would not do it as a treaty.
According to the Secretary of State:
We concluded before the Moscow Treaty was negotiated that we could and would safely reduce to 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads, regardless of what the Russians did.
Secretary Powell reports that President Bush then told President Putin:
This is where we are going. We are going there unilaterally. Come with us or not, stay where you are or not.
In short, the Moscow Treaty does not codify an agreement. Rather, it codifies two unilateral decisions to reduce strategic forces. That is not a bad thing, but it is not such a significant thing.
Another way in which the Moscow Treaty differs from previous arms control agreements is that it does not require the elimination of any missiles, any bombers, any submarines, or any warheads. As a result, each party is free to stockpile its officially reduced weapons.
We used to fight with our conservative friends on this floor who said we could not support such-and-such arms control treaty proffered from President Nixon through to President Ford and President Reagan and President Bushwe could not do it unless we were certain that the missile was destroyed, the warhead was destroyed, the submarine was destroyed. We used to hear what is going to happen is they are going to take these missiles and they are going to hide them in barns and they are going to hide them in the woods and they are going to hide them in camouflaged areas.
Let's be clear what this treaty does. It says you have to get down to 1,700 to 2,200 of these within the next 10 years or so, but all you have to do is take them out of commission. You don't have to destroy them. You can stockpile them. You can put them in a warehouse. You can pile them up in a barn for ready reload. You can take them back out. You don't have to destroy anything. That is in fact what the United States plans to do with many of its reduced weapons. They are reduced, not destroyed.
Trident submarines that are taken off nuclear patrol will be converted to other purposesand could presumably be reconverted to carry strategic nuclear weapons, although at some cost.
Bombers will also be converted; actually, their re-conversion to strategic nuclear uses might be rather difficult.
According to recent press stories, the United States might use ICBMs to deliver conventional payloads. That would leave the missiles still available for use with nuclear warheads instead.
And the administration says that about three-quarters of the reductions may be made simply by "downloading"that means by removing bombs and warheads from bombers and missiles, while leaving the delivery vehicles in service.
What happens to those "downloaded" warheads? Of the thousands of warheads that will be "reduced" by the United States, manyperhaps almost allwould be retained in some form of reserve status, available to be returned to action in months, weeks, or even days.
The Secretary of State did not indicate that some warheads would be dismantled. But the administration has yet to earmark a single type of warhead for dismantlement.
For years, now, the Air Force has been prepared to give up the W-62 warheads on its Minuteman Three missiles.
They will be replaced by the W-87 warheads that are removed from the Peacekeeper missile, which is to be retired. But the Defense Department seems incapable of letting go of the old warheads.
I will move on. The Secretary of State did indicate, though, that some warheads would be dismantled, but the administration is yet to earmark a single type of warhead that we are going to dismantle. My support for ratification of this treaty is based in part on the administration's assurances for the record that "some warheads are to be removed and will be destroyed or dismantled."
Since the statement was made, however, there has been no action by the executive branch to turn this into a reality. I expect the administration to live up to Secretary Powell's commitment. If it should fail to do so, this would endanger the process by which the Senate gives advice and consent to the ratification of not only this treaty but every treaty in the future.
An equal concern for me is the question of what the Russians will do with its reduced weapons. If it follows the lead of the United States, it will try to retain as many missiles and bombers as possible, and it will stockpile its downloaded nuclear weapons rather than dismantling them and disposing of the excess fissile material.
Under this treaty, Russia can do whatever it wants with its so-called reduced weapons. But we have a stake in Russia's decision on this. That is because of the risk that Russia will not adequately protect the weapons and nuclear materials it has stockpiled.
It is one thing for us to decommission, reduce our nuclear weapon and stockpile it. We have exceedingly tight security on such material.
The Russians have incredibly, incredibly insecure facilities because they lack the money to be able to maintain these secure facilities. I worry that if Russia does not destroy them, that they will find themselvesand we will find ourselvessusceptible to the clandestine sale or the actual stealing of these materials, and they will fall into the hands of people who do not have our interests at heart.
The only threat to our very existence is the accidental launch of Russian missiles, and that is why I still worry about the MIRV'd ICBMs. But perhaps the worst other threat to America is that some Russian nuclear weapons, or material with which they make them, could be stolen or diverted to rogue states or terrorist groups. The more weapons Russia stockpiles, the greater the risk not all of them will be properly safeguarded.
To combat that danger, our chairman cofounded the Nunn-Lugar program to assist the Soviet Unionand now its successor statesin meeting their arms control obligations.
Related programs in the Energy Department and the State Department help Russia to safeguard its sensitive materials, and to find civilian careers for its thousands of weapons scientists.
These programs will have a major role to play in the years to come. With Nunn-Lugar, we can enable Russia to destroy its old delivery vehicles rather than mothballing them. Russian officials have already decided they want to move in that direction.
Let me put something in focus, by the way. The entire budget for Russia for this fiscal year is roughly $40 billion. The entire Russian military budget is $9 billion.
My neighboring States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have budgets bigger than all of Russia. I suspect if you added up all their law enforcement and prison-related budgets, it probably exceeds the entire defense budget of Russia.
Our defense budget, and I make no apologies for it, is between $350 and $400 billion. So I want us to keep this in focus. The ability of Russia to maintain and/or take the money to destroy this fissile material and mothball nuclear capacity is very limited, increasing the need for Nunn-Lugar, the threat reduction money, to be spent on American scientists with American contractors to go to Russia to destroy these weapons for them because they do not have the money to do it.
U.S. assistance can also help Russia to secure and dispose of its excess fissile material. That is the stuff that makes nuclear explosions. That is the stuff that is the product from which chain reactions, nuclear chain reactions start.
That is an urgent and continuing task, with or without this treaty.
I think the administration understands this. The Secretary of State has laid it out:
U.S. assistance helps to improve the security of Russia's nuclear weapons by improving their physical protection (fencing, sensors, communications); accounting (improved hardware and software); personnel reliability (better screening); and guard force capabilities (more realistic training).
These improvements are particularly important because Russia faces a difficult threat environmentpolitical instability, terrorist threats, and insider threats resulting from financial conditions in Russia.
Translated: The Russian Mafia; translated: Departments seeking money to keep their folks employed doing things that are not in the interest of Russia, and clearly not in the interest of the United States.
The Secretary of State also assured the Committee that:
. . . we intend to continue to work with Russia, under the Cooperative Threat Reduction, CTR program, when and to the extent permitted by law, to make its warhead storage facilities more secure.
Such U.S. assistance will also increase the security of the Russian warheads made excess as provided in the Moscow Treaty.
The Secretary of State continued:
If requested by the Russian Federation, and subject to the laws related to CRT certification, the Administration would be prepared to provide additional assistance for removing, transporting, storing, and securing nuclear warheads, disassembling warheads and storing fissile material, dismantling surplus strategic missiles, and disposing of associated launchers.
I am pleased that the administration accepts the need to use Nunn-Lugar and related programs in implementing this treaty, and that the 2004 budget request has a 9-percent increase for Nunn-Lugar.
That increase is probably spoken for, however, by the cost of buildingbelatedlya chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch'ye. So I wonder, at least, whether enough fund are budgeted for Nunn-Lugar; I hope they are but I don't think they are.
And I hope that the President will prevail upon his own party in the House to give him more than temporary authority to waive certification requirements for these programs.
Nunn-Lugar efforts cannot achieve their maximum effectiveness if every year or so the funds dry up for months at a time, while waiting for Congress to permit another presidential waiver.
The laissez-faire nature of the Moscow Treaty is also evident in the timing of its reduction requirement.
This is very unusual. Under Article I of the Treaty, the reductions must occur "by December 31, 2012." Until that date, there is no reduction requirement. Indeed, until that date, there is nothing barring each party from increasing its force levels.
A party could even have more weapons than it has today, so long as it does not exceed START Treaty levels before that treaty expires in 2009. I don't expect that, of course, but there is nothing to prohibit it.
And what happens on December 31, 2012. The treaty expires.
If a party fails to achieve the reductions required by this treaty, the other party will have little recourse. The treaty codifies legally binding promises, but provides no way to make the Parties live up to them.
This is a very unusual treaty.
Most curious of all, perhaps, is the withdrawal provision in Article IV of the treaty. You might think that, with no obligations until the very last day of this treaty's existence, there would be little reason ever to withdraw from it. That is certainly what I think.
Just in case, however, the treaty has what is probably the most liberal withdrawal clause in any arms control treaty. A party can withdraw with only 3 months' notice.
There is no need for withdrawal to be due to "extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty [that] have jeopardized its supreme interests," as is required in the START Treaty signed by the first President Bush.
Indeed, there is no requirement in this treaty to state any reason for withdrawal.
I hope the administration is correct in its view that we no longer need verification. The Secretary of State said, "in the context of this new relationship, a treaty with a verification regime under the Cold War paradigm was neither required nor appropriate."
It may be that we need not care what Russia does. That might explain why the Moscow Treaty leaves it to each party to decide what weapons it is reducing and how it will do that, and sets no benchmarks for measuring progress between now and December 31, 2012.
To this day, the Russian Federation has yet to say how it defines the term "strategic nuclear warheads," or how its reductions will be made.
We can only hope that his laissez-faire approach to arms control obligations will not lead to misunderstandings down the road. With no agreed definitions and no benchmarks, I respectfully suggest that there is lots of room for quarrels over whether a party will really be in compliance by December 31, 2012.
Perhaps voluntary transparency by each party will assure the other that arms reductions are proceeding properly.
I applaud the decision to establish a transparency committee under the U.S.-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Security.
But I am not reassured by the Secretary of State's statement that "specific additional transparency measures are not needed, and will not be sought, at this time."
It may be that continuing U.S. assistance to Russia under the Nunn-Lugar program and other assistance programs will give us such visibility into Russian forces that we will have no need of verification.
But if we are to rely on that window, thenas I noted earlierPresident Bush ought to persuade House Republicans to let him waive the certification requirements that periodically stall the funding of our programs for months at a time because if there is no verification and no ability through the threat reduction program to look inside what Russia is doing, then we are operating in the blind.
When the President requested that authority to waive provisions allowing him to move forward with Nunn-Lugar, it was people in his own party in the House who refused to make that authority permanent.
Previous Presidents gave special attention to the need to do away with MIRVed ICBMs. The first President Bush achieved that in the START II Treaty.
But Russia refused to let that treaty enter into force unless we continued to adhere to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. When the current President Bush pulled us out of the ABM Treaty, START II died.
Why worry about MIRVed ICBMs? A MIRVed missile has multiple warheads. It's cheaper to put several warheads on a single missile than it is to build, house and launch several missiles.
But if I put 6 or 10 warheads on a missile, and you can take that missile out with only 1 or 2 warheads by attacking first, then my military planners are going to be nervous.
And that is precisely what can happen if my missile is an ICBM in a fixed silo. It may be powerful, but it is also a sitting duck.
So my military planners are going to say to me: We need to be able to fire our missiles before the attacking missiles land on them. The nuclear theologians call this: "Use 'em or lose 'em." Put another way, if Russia has MIRV'd ICBMs sitting in silos, and we get to a pointhopefully, that will never happenin the next year, decade or two decades, and they know that one of our warheads can take out that multiple warhead ICBM they have on the ground, their military planners are going to say: You better strike first with that missile because if you don't, it will be taken out. And we are going to sit here and say: We know that is what their military planners are going to do, so we better take that missile out first.
That is called destabilizing. That does not lend security or a sense of security. That is why the first President Bush, and every other President before him, said it was important, of any missile you get rid of, to do away with MIRVed warheads because they were destabilizing, they were on a hair trigger.
This "use 'em or lose 'em" strategy is still in play. I will use radars and satellites to tell when somebody is attacking me. My command and control system will allow me to order a launch of my nuclear-tipped missiles within 10 minutes because that is all the time I will have between the warning of a possible attack and when the warheads will start falling on my MIRVed missiles.
Now, if I am the United States, that works. But if I am Russia, my missile warning network is made of Swiss cheese. Some of my satellites do not even work if I am Russia. I lost some radars when the Soviet Union broke up. And worse yet, my rocket force troops are so poorly paid, so ill-housed, that sometimes they even go berserk and shoot each other. This is not a joke. They really do. So there are risks in basing our deterrent force on MIRVed ICBMs. And if Russia's nuclear-tipped missiles are ever launched in error, we in the United States are the ones most likely to suffer.
But the administration is confident that none of this will happen. The Secretary of State told the Foreign Relations Committee:
We cannot conceive of any credible scenario in which we would threaten to launch our strategic forces at Russia. The scenario . . . of Russia believing it faced a "use it or lose it" situation with its force of MIRVed ICBMs is therefore not a credible concern.
As a former press secretary of mine used to sayEvelyn Lieberman"My lips to God's ears." Hopefully, that is true.
As a result, President Bush felt at liberty to tell President Putin:
[Y]ou can do whatever you think you have to do for your security. You can MIRV your missiles, you can keep more, you can go lower. Do what you think you need.
I sincerely hope the relationship between the United States and Russia has truly been transformed and that, as President Bush wrote in his letter of transmittal, "Russia is not an enemy, Russia is a friend"a friend, I might add, that is not with us right now on the Security Council and not with us with regard to Iraq, but that is a parenthetical note.
Most of all, I hope that Russia feels the same way. If President Putin fears a U.S. attack, then it won't matter what President Bush has as his intent.
If the Russian military fears a U.S. attack, their missiles may stay on a "hair trigger" alert even if President Putin does not share their fears.
In short, the Moscow Treaty is a treaty that is long on flexibility accorded to each party and short on provisions intended to ensure compliance. That emphasis on military flexibility is the hallmark of this administration. It is an understandable response to dangerous times, but I think it is also a vision that ignores many of the political risks.
This administration has also promoted a nuclear weapons policy that speaks of the use of new "bunker-buster" weapons against deeply buried targets, treating nuclear weapons as a handy tool just as any other weapon, and thus lowering the threshold for nuclear war.
This administration also speaks of possible new nuclear weapons tests. This administration speaks of the possible use of nuclear weapons against states that neither have such weapons nor are allied with states that have them, contradicting previous American statements that we made in order to maintain other countries' support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This administration has indicated possible preemptive attacks, perhaps with nuclear weapons, on states that we fear are preparing to do us harmagain, perhaps even if those states do not have nuclear weapons.
I do not doubt that if we went through this list, issue by issue, we would find that the administration has understandable reasons for its actions. But in foreign affairs, understandable reasons are not enough. We need a sensible strategy. We need statecraft that offers what Thomas Jefferson called "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."
In that respect, we risk alienating ourselves from those who could be of help to us in many areas. The issue may be to keep an American on a United Nations commission or whether to support an American use of force in Iraq. Chickens come home to roost.
The fact is, we cannot take these unilateral positions irrespective, in my view, of world public opinion and then not expect to pay for it down the road somewhere. I would respectfully suggest, parenthetically, I think we are paying for some of that right now in the United Nations Security Council.
This fixation with military power extends to the Moscow Treaty as well. How should we handle a treaty that calls for significant force reductions but also allows each party to keep its powder dry?
Retired Senator Sam Nunn, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has a good term for the Moscow Treaty. He calls it, not "the Moscow Treaty," but the "good-faith treaty." Senator Nunn adds:
It expressesand relies upongood faith in our common interests and the common vision of our leaders.
I think it is a pretty good way to characterize this treaty.
But when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Sam Nunn added a very important point about the treaty. He said:
If it is not followed with other substantive actions, it will become irrelevant at bestcounterproductive at worst.
Let me read that again. He said: "If it is not followed with other substantive actions"he means actions in terms of arms control and verification, and the like"it will become irrelevant at bestcounterproductive at worst." I share his view.
I support the Moscow Treaty because, on balance, it enhances our national interests. Put another way: To reject this treaty, in my view, would harm our national interest and, as I said at the outset, the relationship between the United States and Russia.
The arms reductions in it do not go far enough, in my view, but they are better than nothing. There is no verification provisions, but good faith, information from START verification activities, and Nunn-Lugar may be a good substitute for verification.
There is a risk that the Russians will rely upon MIRVed ICBMs that raise the threat of an accidental war, but there is also a chance that Russia will destroy those missiles as fast as they can pay for their destruction.
The flexibility built into this treaty could undermine each party's commitment to reductions and its confidence that the other side will achieve them, but the Bush-Putin relationship, which is now being somewhat strained on North Korea and on Iraq, could lead to new patterns of cooperation that make further formal agreements unnecessary.
May all the good outcomes come to pass, but they require a leap of faith. In the meantime, however, I worked with Chairman Lugar to draft a resolution of ratification that keeps Senator Nunn's admonition in mind. We must build on this treaty in order to ensure its success.
The resolution before us strengthens congressional oversight of the Moscow Treaty implementation and highlights some of the areas on which the administration should build on the treaty to secure a safer world for ourselves and future generations. The resolution includes two conditions and six declarations. Let me briefly go through them.
Condition (1) requires an annual report to the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees on how U.S. cooperative threat reduction and nonproliferation assistance to Russia can best contribute to enabling Russia to implement its side of the bargain. Reports subsequent to the initial report will be due on February 15 so that the Senate can take them into account as it considers the budget for programs for which the administration is calling. This is vital because U.S. assistance can bring about the weapons dismantlement the Moscow Treaty fails to achieve.
Condition (2) requires an annual report to the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committee on U.S. and Russian strategic force levels; each party's planned reductions for the current year; each party's plans for achieving the full reductions by December 31, 2012. Further, it requires reporting on any measure, including verification or transparency measures, taken or proposed by a party to assure each party that the other will achieve its reductions by December 31, 2012.
Condition (2) also requires information relevant to the treaty learned through START verification, and the status of consideration of extending the START verification regime beyond December 2009 when the START treaty is scheduled to expire; anything calling into question either party's intention or ability to achieve the full Moscow Treaty reductions by December 31, 2012; and any action taken or proposed by the parties to address such concerns. This report will provide a strong foundation for Senate oversight of the treaty's implementation.
The first declaration in the treaty reaffirms the Biden-Byrd condition on the authoritative nature of executive branch representations to the Senate and its committees during the ratification process insofar as they are directed to the meaning and legal effect of the treaty.
In other words, it says the Presidentthis President or a future Democrat or Republican Presidentcannot reinterpret the treaty, cannot give it a meaning different than was suggested to us as what it meant.
There is a second declaration. It encourages the President to continue strategic offensive reductions beyond those mandated by this treaty to the lowest possible levels consistent with national security requirements and alliance obligations of the United States. Declarations, I might note, for the Presiding Officer, who knows this well, are nonbinding. But this one makes clear that the Moscow Treaty should not be the end of arms control.
President Bush also issued a joint declaration on May 24, 2002, with Russian President Putin that declared "their intention to carry out strategic offensive reductions to the lowest possible levels consistent with our national security requirements and alliance obligations and reflecting the new nature of their strategic reductions."
The joint declaration went on to call the Moscow Treaty a major step in this directionnot the final step, only a major one. The clear implication is that further reductions may follow. This declaration gives the arms reduction process the Senate's blessing, just as we did when considering ratification of START and the START II treaties.
The third declaration states the Senate's expectation that the executive branch will offer to brief the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees on issues raised in the bilateral implementation commission, which is part of this treaty, on Moscow Treaty issues raised in other channels, and on any Presidential determination regarding such issues.
Given the lack of verification or transparency provisions in the Moscow Treaty, the bilateral implementation committee established by article III of the treaty may play a major role in assuring that each party knows what the other party is doing and retains confidence that the reductions required by article I will be completed on timea very important point, on time. Remember, there are no drop-dead dates here.
The fourth declaration urges the President to engage Russia with the objective of, one, establishing cooperative measures regarding the accounting and security of nonstrategicthat is, or tacticalnuclear weapons, and two, providing U.S. and other international assistance to help Russia improve its accounting and security of these weapons. The first meeting of the U.S.-Russian Consultative Group on Strategic Security established a committee to examine these issues. The administration witnesses listed this as a top priority. This declaration, in my view, adds the Senate's encouragement to pursue the issue of tactical nuclear weapons. It does not call for bilateral agreement on reductions of those weapons because several outside witnesses said no Russian agreement to such reductions was likely.
The fifth declaration before us encourages the President to accelerate U.S. force reductions where feasible and consistent with U.S. national security and alliance obligations. The Treaty's intended reductions may be achieved prior to December 2012. To me, the wisdom of faster reductions is clear. It will reassure the world of our commitment to reduced nuclear forces to a reasonable level as speedily as we can. They will also ease any possible Russian concerns about whether we will meet the one deadline in the treaty. Department of Energy and Air Force officials warn that absent additional resources, major bottlenecks would slow down an accelerated reduction effort.
The Congressional Budget Office report on the treaty cites specific concerns in that regard. But those concerns relate to an effort to complete all reductions by the year 2007.
I believe in the years after 2007, when the transfer of Peacekeeper warheads to the Minuteman III missile will have been completed, faster reductions will be much more feasible.
There is declaration 6. It urges the President to consult with the Senate prior to actions relevant to article IV, paragraph 2, which relate to extending or superseding a treaty, or paragraph 3, which relate to withdrawal from the treaty. This declaration builds on the statement of the Secretary of State that "the administration intends to discuss any need to withdraw from the treaty with the Congress, to include the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, prior to announcing any such action."
The Secretary's statement could mean only that the administration would discuss with the Senate the need to withdraw when the decision has already been made. This declaration we have in the resolution goes further, by urging the President to consult with the Senate. One may discuss after the decision has been made, but one can only consult before a decision has been taken. The latter is what the Senate expects if this treaty is passed, and this expectation extends beyond the withdrawal issue to cover actions relevant to extending or superseding the treaty. It is vital that the executive branch consult with us when it is considering changes in a treaty. That way, Senators can raise any concern before decisions are made that might jeopardize the chances of securing our advice and consent to ratification.
The resolution of ratification before us was recommended unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I believe it will make a real contribution to the success of this treaty, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.
To be sure, the resolution does not address every issue we could raise. It clearly does not speak to every declaration that I think should be included in this treaty, but neither is it the only venue in which to raise those issues. For example, consider what the Foreign Relations Committee's report of the treaty says about the proposal by GEN Eugene Habiger, former commander of U.S. Strategic Command:
Members of the committee . . . share General Habiger's view that options for reducing alert status should be evaluated by those with significant expertise on the specific weapons systems in question. If the President does not order preparation for such analyses, Congress could require the analyses or establish a commission of weapons systems experts to undertake this task. Such commissions have been created before, some under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, and have proven useful in considering issues of such a technical nature.
Senator Lugar and I do not think this resolution of ratification is a proper vehicle through which to establish such a commission, but unless something has changed, which I know it has not, we will continue to pursue this proposal in a venue other than this treaty.
The committee's report also addresses two other issues we were unable to incorporate in the resolution of ratification. On verification and transparency, our report says:
The committee believes that the absence of verification provisions in the Moscow Treaty makes confidence and transparency a high priority issue. . . . The United States should not only practice transparency, but also promote it, in close coordination with the Russian Federation.
Our report goes on to say:
The committee urges the President to use implementation of the Moscow Treaty as a means to foster . . . mutual confidence in the national security field.
The report also calls attention to the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that further drawdowns in strategic delivery vehicles after 2007 could save some $5 billion.
Our report adds:
The committee recommends that the President give particular attention, as the Moscow Treaty implementation proceeds, to the possibility that modest further reductions in strategic delivery systems after 2007 could lead to significant cost savings without endangering the national security.
The Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee can pursue both of these issues as they oversee the implementation of the treaty in the coming years, and I am committed to doing so, and I believe the chairman is as well.
Some of my colleagues are concerned about still other issues. Several amendments may be proposed today. Some of them are amendments I would like to support, but I will not support any additional amendments because I think it is fair to say, speaking for myself, but I think it reflects the view of the chairmanhe may have already mentioned itwe believe that in order to get the cooperation we had to add the total of eight declarations or conditions to this treaty, we would, in fact, oppose other amendments, some positive, some, in my view, very negative. So it will be my dubious distinction of possibly voting against some amendments that I think are useful because I think if that were to happen and we started to load this up, we might very well lose this treaty. I think it is very important.
It is a mild exaggeration to suggest, but not very far off, that my view is that the value of the treaty is exceeded only by the danger of failing to ratify this treaty, and there is a danger, in my view, of failing to ratify this treaty. This is not a treaty, were I in charge of negotiationas my Grandfather Finnegan used to say, this is not the whole of itthis is not all of what I would like to have seen in this treaty. I sincerely hope this further changes the atmosphere in the positive direction it has been changing, that this administration and the Russian administration will conclude we should be dealing with MIRV missiles, we should be dealing with tactical nuclear weapons, and we should be dealing with other genuine mutual concerns that we have. I am confident if we reject this treaty, if we bog it down and it does not get the necessary supermajority required, then it will make those possibilities impossible in the near term.
So in each case, as these amendments are put forward, if they are, I will be guided also by the need to maintain administration support and Senate consensus regarding the resolution of ratification as a whole.
I say to my Democratic colleagues on my side of the aisle, I do not presume to speak for them all. Generally, I do not think it is appropriate for the chairman or a ranking member to commit his or her party to a single position that that chairman or, in this case, the ranking member takes.
I respect my colleagues who may come forward with amendments, but I hope they understand my rationale and why I will not be supporting those amendments, even the good ones, because there is no amendment I can see that is so significant that it would cure all the defects or all the things this treaty fails to address. The risk I am concerned about is bogging this treaty down.
It is a good resolution, I say to the Presiding Officer, who knows that as well as or better than anyone presenthe is one of the most informed people in this body on foreign relations and arms control issues. I think it will be implemented. The reporting it requires, I think, will enable us to do our constitutional duty of watching over the treaty in the coming years.
Let's pass it and then work together to make it a success and work together to take the next steps we have to take.
I would note to my chairman that there may be a resolution unrelated to any amendment to this treaty calling for the Senate to go on record in a much more forceful way to support a comprehensive non-proliferation strategy and Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction efforts. As I said in the chairman's absence, without verification, there are only two things that give me real solace, and they are the insight we get from the Nunn-Lugar initiatives and cooperative threat reduction, as well as the remaining verification process that exists within the START treaty which will expire three years before this treaty expires. But it will not, I assure my colleague, be as an amendment. It will not be as a declaration which we cannot amend. It will not be as a condition to this treaty.
I thank my colleagues for their indulgence. I do not plan on speaking on this issue very much longer except on each amendment at some point. I hope we can move as rapidly as possible because, again, the treaty is valuable, but it is dangerous if we do not pass this treaty.
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
Mr. DURBIN. I ask my colleague from Delaware, since I am taking his language from the START treaty and have venerated it, deified it, given it all of the credence any Senator could ask, whether he would be kind enough to join me.
Mr. BIDEN. The answer is yes. I think what the Senator is attempting to do is very important. Let me explain to the Senator my perspective, and to state the obviousI may very well be wrong about this. But let me tell my colleague why I honestly think what Senator Lugar and I came up with is, quite frankly, more likely to get at what we need.
Condition 8 that has been referred to in the START treaty was a very new and important idea when we enacted it 10 years ago. It led the Clinton administration to use the Nunn-Lugar program to achieve a measure of transparency into the Russian fissile stockpiles in the mid-1990s.
In recent years, the United States has helped Russia to conduct a census of its civilian fissile material, but I doubt that either side is now prepared to allow access to the weapons stockpiles that are not on the civilian side of this equation.
It would be my expectation that a report called for on the activities pursuant to condition 8 to the START treaty resolution of ratification would only tell us there are no negotiations toward a bilateral agreement, even though there are useful efforts underway on the Nunn-Lugar related programs.
We already have a condition to the resolution before us that requires the Nunn-Lugar report; in other words, progress on Nunn-Lugar initiatives. We are required to have a report. While I will join the Senator in a letter, and I agree with what the Senator is trying to do, I honestlynot out of pride of authorship of what we came up with, but I honestly believe that what we did as a condition on the Nunn-Lugar programs on this treaty is, quite frankly, more effective than going the route of the condition 8 requirements in the START treaty. I hope I made that clear.
Again, there is no disagreement I have with the Senator from Illinois. The bottom line is that what he has pointed out is, in my view, a real deficiency in this treaty overall. His legitimate attempt to take condition 8 of START and use it as a vehicle to stand in for the absence of a verification requirement in this treaty is useful.
I honestly think, though, I say to Senator Durbin, the way we did it in the resolution is a more effective way of accomplishing what the Senator is trying to do than through condition 8 of the START treaty.
I will conclude by saying, as I said in a necessarily lengthy statement laying out my interests, concerns, and the assets and deficiencies of this treaty when the chairman brought it to the floor, the treaty, as former Senator Sam Nunn said, in an overall context, can either be moderately helpful or it can be mischievous. I am paraphrasing.
The absence of a verification provision worries me not so much because I think we are going to be put in jeopardy if they do not do what they are supposed to do, but because it is going to allow a future administration or Members of the Senate to do what they did when we had a verbal agreement on tactical nuclear weapons in the first Bush administration.
It is going to allow some of our friends on the right, who are not going to like it when things are not going so smoothly with Russia, to say: See, these guys are liars. These guys do not keep their agreements. These guys are not doing what they said because we cannot verify that they have done what they said they were going to do.
It leads to distrust because there is always, as my friend from Illinois knows, whether in the House or the Senateand he has been here a long timethere is always a group in this body that trusts no agreement, none whatsoever, no arms control agreement, no matter how loosely structured.
As Senator Helms, my good friend and the predecessor of the Presiding Officer, used to say: There is never a war we have lost or a treaty we have won. So it is axiomatic on the part of some, in the very conservative elements of our party, but clearly in the Republican Party, who say all treaties are bad ideas, they are just bad ideas.
Absent verification provisions, we allow for misunderstanding to creep in over the next 10 years to what is basically a good-faith agreement until December 31, 2012, the drop-dead date when we know what has happened.
I wish to make one other point because I think it will affect other legitimate points of view and amendments that are brought to the floor that I would be inclined to support.
I remind everyone who may be listeningand I know my colleagues on the floor fully understand thisthe President started off with a flat assertion that this would not be a treaty, the Moscow agreement. As a matter of fact, the day on which we had the police memorial service on The Malland I am part of that processI was up on the stage, and the President, who has a great sense of humor and is really an engaging guy, walked up on the stage, grabbed my arm, and said: You owe me one, Joe.
I looked at him joking and said: How is that, Mr. President?
He said: You got your treaty.
He was kidding about my owing him one. But the generic point was well taken. He never wanted this to be a treaty in the first place. The Senator from IndianaI will not say the Senator from Indianathe Senator from Delaware was vocal, vociferous privately and publicly with the President personally and on this floor that it had to be a treaty.
The backdrop to all of this is, in terms of additional conditions that may or may not be added to this resolution, that if push comes to shove, I am convinced this President would not be disappointed if we did not vote for this. Let me restate thathe would be disappointed if we did not vote for it. But I am worried that, if certain amendments were added that he did not like, I do not think he would have any trouble saying, I would rather not have it as a treaty, and I will keep the verbal agreement, the executive agreement with Mr. Putin, rather than have it as a treaty and have to accept these conditions.
It is very important this stay as a treaty asflawed is the wrong wordbut as incomplete as it happens to be. The SenatorI am not being solicitouspoints out a deep and serious deficiency in this treaty, and I think the mechanism he chose to try to remedy it is, quite frankly, sound; but the remedy we chose to deal with the deficiency I think is a more likely way to achieve what we are seeking than condition 8 of the START treaty.
Having said all of that, I will be happy to join the Senator in a letter, as strong as he would like to make the letter. I have already sent a few missives down to the President on my views on some of these issues, for what they are worth. I would be happy to join the Senator and sign with him a letter along the lines he has been talking about.