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Chairman Kerry Welcomes Submission of the New START Treaty

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Location: Washington, DC

Chairman Kerry Welcomes Submission of the New START Treaty

Upon submission of the New START Treaty to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today issued the following statement:

"Ratifying New START is an essential step toward making America safer.

"This treaty will maintain our flexibility to protect our national security interests and restore hard-won visibility into the strategic nuclear forces of Russia's still formidable arsenal. It will also strengthen the global coalition against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and thereby reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.

"The New START Treaty is the latest in a line of strategic arms reduction accords, often negotiated by Republican presidents, and supported overwhelmingly by Republican and Democratic senators alike.

"As President Reagan said in 1981, "Our nation has been committed on a bipartisan basis to preventing the spread of nuclear explosives from the birth of the atomic age over 35 years ago.' We must uphold America's longstanding record of leadership on this vital issue.

"The Senate will give New START the full and careful consideration it deserves. I am confident that once the treaty has been thoroughly vetted, we will emerge with bipartisan consensus."

Along with the New START Treaty, the Obama administration today submitted a plan to spend $80 billion over the next decade to maintain and improve the nation's nuclear weapons complex. "This is the most forward-looking budget for stewardship of the nuclear stockpile that we've ever seen," Chairman Kerry said. "It demonstrates the Obama administration's commitment to keeping America's nuclear deterrent safe and effective for a generation to come."

The Secretary of Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top military leaders have all expressed strong support for the treaty, which significantly reduces the legal ceiling on the number of warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy. This will improve stability, predictability, and transparency between the two largest nuclear powers, which together possess 95 percent of the world's atomic weapons.

The New START Treaty also provides for detailed on-site inspections and regular exchanges of information. The original START accord, and its verification provisions, expired on December 5 of last year. "Every day since then we have been losing crucial visibility into Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal," said Chairman Kerry. "The sooner we restore that visibility--as this treaty does--the better."

Next week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue its series of hearings on New START. On Tuesday, May 18, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, will testify.

New START Treaty Frequently Asked Questions

Will the treaty constrain U.S. missile defense plans?
No. New START will not limit U.S. missile defense testing, development, or deployment in any meaningful way. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on March 26, "Missile defense is not constrained by this treaty." The treaty does bar both sides from converting additional ICBM silos or SLBM launch tubes for missile defense interceptors, but the United States has no plans to do so anyway. America's military leaders prefer to build new missile defense silos, because existing ICBM silos are not optimally located for continental missile defense, and because the Navy would not want to expose the location of nuclear-armed submarines by using them for missile defense. Converting existing facilities is also more expensive than building new ones.

How do the treaty's verification provisions compare with what the United States has in place now?

They are significantly better. Currently, the United States has no formal verification and transparency mechanisms in place because the original START Treaty expired on December 5. (The 2002 Moscow Treaty contained no means for verifying compliance with its terms, relying instead on the original START Treaty.) This means that day by day we are losing significant visibility into Russia's strategic nuclear forces. The New START treaty will require Russia to notify the United States of movements, production, destruction, and fielding of missiles and bombers, as well as other changes in its nuclear force posture. It will give the United States the right to inspect Russian ICBM, submarine, and bomber bases--up to a total of 18 times a year--and to examine any new types of strategic arms that Russia may develop.

This is a treaty between the United States and Russia, so how will it help fight nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism?

It will help in two ways. First, it will enhance cooperation and increase military-to-military contact between the United States and Russia, enabling the two countries to better work together to pressure rogue states and halt nuclear trafficking. Second, it will demonstrate that the United States is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That, in turn, will encourage the more than 180 NPT member states to take the necessary steps asked of them to help stop nuclear proliferation and terrorism--foregoing trade or investment opportunities with Iran or North Korea, interdicting shipments through their territory, or shutting down financial ties with suspect organizations.

Why does the treaty count heavy bombers as having only one warhead? Does that mean the treaty's limits are misleading?

Because bombers are not first-strike weapons (they are slow, they can be recalled, and they can be shot down), arms control efforts have traditionally encouraged countries to rely on them instead of ICBMs by "discounting" the number of warheads they carry. The original START treaty included such a discount. Greater reliance on bombers increases strategic stability during a crisis. New START's counting rules are actually more stringent than those of the 2002 Moscow Treaty, under which Russia does not count bomber warheads at all. By lowering the legal limit on nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,550, the treaty takes an essential step toward reducing each side's reliance on nuclear weapons.

Is the military satisfied with the nuclear forces that we will be able to deploy under the new treaty?
Yes. The nation's top military leaders have expressed their strong support for the treaty:

* Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said today: "The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership--to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent."
* Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on March 26: "I, the vice chairman and the Joint Chiefs, as well as our combatant commanders around the world, stand solidly behind this new treaty, having had the opportunity to provide our counsel, to make our recommendations and to help shape the final agreements."
* General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the former head of U.S. Strategic Command, said on April 6: "I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or might emerge in the foreseeable future."


Explain the Obama administration's funding request for the nuclear weapons complex that was submitted to the Senate with the New START Treaty.
As required by last year's National Defense Authorization Act, the administration submitted a plan for revitalizing the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure--that is, the laboratories, production facilities, and stewardship efforts operated by the Department of Energy. The administration's plan calls for $80 billion in spending over the next ten years, the largest such request since the end of the Cold War. This funding request demonstrates President Obama's determination to keep the nation's nuclear deterrent safe and reliable for a generation to come.

What changes are being made to the nation's nuclear force posture?
WASHINGTON, DC -- Upon submission of the New START Treaty to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today issued the following statement:

"Ratifying New START is an essential step toward making America safer.

"This treaty will maintain our flexibility to protect our national security interests and restore hard-won visibility into the strategic nuclear forces of Russia's still formidable arsenal. It will also strengthen the global coalition against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and thereby reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.

"The New START Treaty is the latest in a line of strategic arms reduction accords, often negotiated by Republican presidents, and supported overwhelmingly by Republican and Democratic senators alike.

"As President Reagan said in 1981, "Our nation has been committed on a bipartisan basis to preventing the spread of nuclear explosives from the birth of the atomic age over 35 years ago.' We must uphold America's longstanding record of leadership on this vital issue.

"The Senate will give New START the full and careful consideration it deserves. I am confident that once the treaty has been thoroughly vetted, we will emerge with bipartisan consensus."

Along with the New START Treaty, the Obama administration today submitted a plan to spend $80 billion over the next decade to maintain and improve the nation's nuclear weapons complex. "This is the most forward-looking budget for stewardship of the nuclear stockpile that we've ever seen," Chairman Kerry said. "It demonstrates the Obama administration's commitment to keeping America's nuclear deterrent safe and effective for a generation to come."

The Secretary of Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top military leaders have all expressed strong support for the treaty, which significantly reduces the legal ceiling on the number of warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy. This will improve stability, predictability, and transparency between the two largest nuclear powers, which together possess 95 percent of the world's atomic weapons.

The New START Treaty also provides for detailed on-site inspections and regular exchanges of information. The original START accord, and its verification provisions, expired on December 5 of last year. "Every day since then we have been losing crucial visibility into Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal," said Chairman Kerry. "The sooner we restore that visibility--as this treaty does--the better."

Next week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue its series of hearings on New START. On Tuesday, May 18, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, will testify.

New START Treaty Frequently Asked Questions

Will the treaty constrain U.S. missile defense plans?
No. New START will not limit U.S. missile defense testing, development, or deployment in any meaningful way. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on March 26, "Missile defense is not constrained by this treaty." The treaty does bar both sides from converting additional ICBM silos or SLBM launch tubes for missile defense interceptors, but the United States has no plans to do so anyway. America's military leaders prefer to build new missile defense silos, because existing ICBM silos are not optimally located for continental missile defense, and because the Navy would not want to expose the location of nuclear-armed submarines by using them for missile defense. Converting existing facilities is also more expensive than building new ones.

How do the treaty's verification provisions compare with what the United States has in place now?
They are significantly better. Currently, the United States has no formal verification and transparency mechanisms in place because the original START Treaty expired on December 5. (The 2002 Moscow Treaty contained no means for verifying compliance with its terms, relying instead on the original START Treaty.) This means that day by day we are losing significant visibility into Russia's strategic nuclear forces. The New START treaty will require Russia to notify the United States of movements, production, destruction, and fielding of missiles and bombers, as well as other changes in its nuclear force posture. It will give the United States the right to inspect Russian ICBM, submarine, and bomber bases--up to a total of 18 times a year--and to examine any new types of strategic arms that Russia may develop.

This is a treaty between the United States and Russia, so how will it help fight nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism?
It will help in two ways. First, it will enhance cooperation and increase military-to-military contact between the United States and Russia, enabling the two countries to better work together to pressure rogue states and halt nuclear trafficking. Second, it will demonstrate that the United States is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That, in turn, will encourage the more than 180 NPT member states to take the necessary steps asked of them to help stop nuclear proliferation and terrorism--foregoing trade or investment opportunities with Iran or North Korea, interdicting shipments through their territory, or shutting down financial ties with suspect organizations.

Why does the treaty count heavy bombers as having only one warhead? Does that mean the treaty's limits are misleading?
Because bombers are not first-strike weapons (they are slow, they can be recalled, and they can be shot down), arms control efforts have traditionally encouraged countries to rely on them instead of ICBMs by "discounting" the number of warheads they carry. The original START treaty included such a discount. Greater reliance on bombers increases strategic stability during a crisis. New START's counting rules are actually more stringent than those of the 2002 Moscow Treaty, under which Russia does not count bomber warheads at all. By lowering the legal limit on nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,550, the treaty takes an essential step toward reducing each side's reliance on nuclear weapons.

Is the military satisfied with the nuclear forces that we will be able to deploy under the new treaty?
Yes. The nation's top military leaders have expressed their strong support for the treaty:

* Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said today: "The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership--to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent."
* Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on March 26: "I, the vice chairman and the Joint Chiefs, as well as our combatant commanders around the world, stand solidly behind this new treaty, having had the opportunity to provide our counsel, to make our recommendations and to help shape the final agreements."
* General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the former head of U.S. Strategic Command, said on April 6: "I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or might emerge in the foreseeable future."


Explain the Obama administration's funding request for the nuclear weapons complex that was submitted to the Senate with the New START Treaty.
As required by last year's National Defense Authorization Act, the administration submitted a plan for revitalizing the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure--that is, the laboratories, production facilities, and stewardship efforts operated by the Department of Energy. The administration's plan calls for $80 billion in spending over the next ten years, the largest such request since the end of the Cold War. This funding request demonstrates President Obama's determination to keep the nation's nuclear deterrent safe and reliable for a generation to come.

What changes are being made to the nation's nuclear force posture?
The United States will maintain a robust triad of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers. Reductions in the number of SLBMs will be accomplished by reducing the numbers of launchers on each submarine; there will be no reduction in the number of operationally deployed ballistic missile submarines. A reduction of 30-50 ICBMs will be accomplished without eliminating any wings or bases. The reduction to no more than 60 nuclear-capable heavy bombers will be accomplished without eliminating any Air Force bases. And a strategic reserve of warheads removed from our missiles and bombers will be available if the United States ever needed to switch out defective warheads or increase our forces.

Why doesn't the treaty include tactical nuclear weapons?
Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to address so-called "tactical" nuclear weapons in the arms control process with Russia, but New START was intended to continue strategic arms control and to quickly put in place verification measures to replace those that lapsed when the original START Treaty expired in December 2009. This new treaty has renewed the arms control process between Russia and the United States, and has therefore laid the groundwork for further negotiations on issues like limiting tactical nuclear weapons. As the bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission recommended last year, "Make the first step on U.S.-Russian arms control modest and straightforward in order to rejuvenate the process and ensure that there is a successor to the START I agreement…. The United States and Russia should not over-reach for innovative approaches."

Will the treaty constrain U.S. conventional prompt global strike options?
No. The treaty does not constrain any current or planned U.S. deployments of conventional prompt global strike capability. Like the original START treaty, this treaty does not distinguish between missiles armed with conventional or nuclear warheads, so long-range conventional ballistic missiles will count under the treaty's limits of 700 deployed delivery vehicles and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers. Their conventional warheads would also count against the limit of 1,550 warheads. These limits are more than high enough to accommodate any U.S. plans to deploy conventionally armed ballistic missiles during the life of the treaty. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen has said, this treaty "protects our ability to develop a conventional global strike capability should that be required."

Why doesn't the treaty include tactical nuclear weapons?
Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to address so-called "tactical" nuclear weapons in the arms control process with Russia, but New START was intended to continue strategic arms control and to quickly put in place verification measures to replace those that lapsed when the original START Treaty expired in December 2009. This new treaty has renewed the arms control process between Russia and the United States, and has therefore laid the groundwork for further negotiations on issues like limiting tactical nuclear weapons. As the bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission recommended last year, "Make the first step on U.S.-Russian arms control modest and straightforward in order to rejuvenate the process and ensure that there is a successor to the START I agreement…. The United States and Russia should not over-reach for innovative approaches."

Will the treaty constrain U.S. conventional prompt global strike options?
No. The treaty does not constrain any current or planned U.S. deployments of conventional prompt global strike capability. Like the original START treaty, this treaty does not distinguish between missiles armed with conventional or nuclear warheads, so long-range conventional ballistic missiles will count under the treaty's limits of 700 deployed delivery vehicles and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers. Their conventional warheads would also count against the limit of 1,550 warheads. These limits are more than high enough to accommodate any U.S. plans to deploy conventionally armed ballistic missiles during the life of the treaty. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen has said, this treaty "protects our ability to develop a conventional global strike capability should that be required."


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