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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KERRY. I apologize. I don't know if the Senator from South Dakota is planning to be here? I ask if anybody knows whether he is.

Let me speak to the amendment of the Senator from Oklahoma for a few minutes. I thank him for this amendment on verification. It is an amendment that will help us to flesh out this question of verification, which is important to anybody in the Senate. I guess three words that have become famous beyond what people might have thought when they were first uttered is the pronouncement of President Reagan, ``trust, but verify,'' which at the time was accompanied by his articulation of the Russian words for that.

Obviously, any agreement we would enter into with the Russians, or with anybody, can never rely completely on somebody's word--either word--because neither side is going to be satisfied with somebody's word with whom they have the necessity of actually having to reach this kind of an agreement to reduce weapons that are pointed at each other for lots of different reasons over a long period of time.

I assure the Senator from Oklahoma that every Senator on our side--and most importantly the unbelievably experienced negotiators who put this treaty together, who made a lifetime of trying to understand these kinds of relationships and the ways in which to adequately verify--they would not be standing in front of the country and the world and the Congress saying to us this treaty provides better verification in many ways than we had previously.

Tomorrow, in the classified session, we will have an opportunity to dig into a little bit of what exactly those ingredients are that fill that out--better. I am not going to go into them all now.

But let me talk specifically about the amendment the Senator has proposed. He proposes an amendment to the treaty itself, which we all understand now after two votes, both of which have been to reject a change to the treaty itself because of the implications of changing it. Those do not change here with this particular amendment. But let me go beyond that so we, hopefully, could enlist the opposition to this amendment of some people who will see why it is unnecessary and, in fact, conceivably even counterproductive.

The Senator wants to increase the number of type one inspections. I might add this concept of a type one inspection and a type two inspection is new to the New START treaty. It is new to the process. What the Senator would like to do is triple the number of inspections currently set forth in the treaty.

The second reason, after the question of why you do not want, for this reason particularly, to amend the treaty, there might be a circumstance where a treaty were so egregious or it presented us with such a challenge that the Senate might decide to advise and consent, and we would all say we ought to send this back. But this does not rise to that level, in my judgment, and I think colleagues will share that opinion.

Let me say why.

We can achieve effective verification with the number of inspections that are set forth in the treaty. Admiral Mullen has said we can, the Strategic Command says we can, the national intelligence community says we can--the people responsible for verification. This treaty would never have been sent to the Senate if this treaty did not have adequate verification measures in it that would allow the intelligence community to sign off and say to Senators: Please vote for this treaty.

But let's go underneath that and examine it a little bit. That is the judgment of our military, the State Department, our intelligence community. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told us we should approve this treaty the earlier, the sooner, the better. I think we need to heed his judgment and the judgment of our military.

The Senator expresses the concern that there are fewer inspections here than the original START treaty had. In sort of on-its-face terms, that is a truth. That is a true statement if you simply compared the total number that existed in START I and you compare the number that are set forth in the New START. But that is not what we are comparing.

The reason for that is, in 1992, when we approved START I, there were four countries that we were approving inspections for--Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia--because they all had nuclear facilities. There were about 70 sites that we inspected back then in 1992.

But as we all know, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of cold warriors for years and years from the end of World War II until this historic moment of 1992, the fact is, we were inspecting those 70 sites with a very different relationship and a very different world.

Today, the New START agreement only seeks 35 Russian sites to inspect because Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine no longer have any nuclear weapons. Those weapons were consolidated in Russia, and the sites in Russia were reduced. So you do not want an apples and oranges comparison here. The comparison of how many fixed number of inspections there were back in 1992 is simply not applicable to what you need in 2010, given the change of locations, the change of relationship, and the numbers of sites where there are nuclear weapons.

The comparison is also problematic beyond that because, in fact, under the New START, the inspections we do have, because of the way they have been set up in the type one, type two and the way they have been laid out, they are actually about two inspections equivalent to one inspection under START I.

Let me explain that. Under the original START treaty, an inspection of a missile to see whether it had too many warheads, that inspection of a missile was counted as a separate inspection from so-called update inspections of the base. In other words, there was an inspection of the base, which might take place because we had been told or learned that there was some change in delivery vehicles or other aspects of the base. So we could go to the base and have an update inspection, and that was counted as a separate inspection from the inspection of a missile that might have been located there.

But under the new START, we are allowed to conduct up to ten type one inspections a year, and each inspection includes both the counting of the warheads mounted on one missile bomber and the conducting of the equivalent of the START I treaty separate update inspection. So you get two for one--two inspections for one.

So you cannot compare these inspections in the way the Senator from Oklahoma has. Ten type one and eight type two inspections per year, under the New START agreement, is at least comparable to the 15 data update inspections and 10 reentry vehicle inspections we had under the old START. The 10 reentry vehicle inspections per year under New START are the same as under the old START. So the truth is, the inspection numbers under New START are comparable to those under the original START treaty.

That is precisely why our military and intelligence officials told us this number would be sufficient to comply, to provide verification compliance with this treaty. As I said, we can discuss more of this in the closed session tomorrow. I wish to remind my colleagues, tripling the number of inspections per year, as the Senator's amendment would require, is not a freebie. It is not something we can just say to the Russians: we are going to triple your inspections. Guess what. They are going to demand the same number of inspections of us.

Our military bases would have to be prepared to host three times as many inspections per year as they are currently preparing for. Frankly, that could certainly disrupt day-to-day operations of strategic forces. Anytime the Russians select one of our bases for inspections, we would have to lock down the movements of any treaty items at that base for 24 hours before and throughout the inspection, which is at least another day. That means dropping everything, stopping any movements of our delivery vehicles, halting any work on these systems, and you have to get ready to protect any unrelated classified information that you do not want the Russians to see.

So I think it is one thing to ask our strategic nuclear forces to do that 10 times a year or less than once a month. It is another thing for them to be waiting for 30 inspections a year. We have two submarine bases, three bomber bases, and three ICBM bases that are going to be subject to type one inspections. If we follow through with those amendments, frankly, I think our base commanders, not to mention the Pentagon, would be less than satisfied. Right now, they are comfortable with what we have in this treaty. But far more important, they are comfortable we can verify, which is the key to the ratification of any treaty.

Let me also remind my colleagues that the verification provisions in this treaty were developed with the concerns and the perspective of the U.S. Department of Defense totally in that mix. They helped guide what came out here. ADM Mike Mullen agreed. Let me quote him: ``The verification regimes that exist in the New START treaty is in ways better than the one that has existed in the past.''

Why would we want to challenge that? Why would we want to open now a whole new can of worms of renegotiation when we think what we have is better than what we had previously?

Admiral Mullen also stated he is convinced the verification regime is as stringent as it is transparent and borne of more than 15 years of lessons learned under the original START treaty.

General Chilton has said:

Without New START, we would rapidly lose some of our insight into Russian strategic nuclear force developments and activities, and our force modernization planning and hedging strategy would be more complex and more costly.

Let me also quote a letter Secretary Gates sent me this summer about whether Russia could cheat on this treaty in a manner that would be militarily significant. He said:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Chiefs Commander, the U.S. Strategic Command, and I, assess that Russia will not be able to achieve militarily significant cheating or breakout under New START due to both the New START verification regime, and the inherent survivability and flexibility of the planned U.S. strategic force structure. Our analysis of the NIE and the potential for Russian cheating or breakout confirms that the treaty's verification regime is effective, and that our national security is stronger with this treaty than without it.

I mentioned before that Ronald Reagan was one great advocate for this kind of verification. So I wish to quote what Condoleezza Rice wrote the other week:

The New START treaty helpfully reinstates on-site verification of Russian nuclear forces which lapsed with the expiration of the original START treaty last year. Meaningful verification was a significant achievement of Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and its reinstatement is crucial.

Finally, I would like to point out that we addressed the importance of this verification question in condition 2 of the resolution of ratification. That condition requires that before New START can enter into force, and every year thereafter, the President has to certify to the Senate that our national technical means, in conjunction with the verification activities provided for in the New START treaty, are sufficient to ensure the effective monitoring of Russian compliance with provisions of the New START treaty and timely warning of any Russian preparation to breakout of the limits. So we are going to remain seized of this issue for every year the treaty is in force.

So not only could we lose the treaty if this amendment were to pass, not only could we impose unwanted and unneeded requirements on our military bases and our military, not only would we not effectively increase the verification because of the advantages that were built into the New START treaty by our negotiators, which have been attested to by the very people who need to enforce it, not only that, but we could be without any verification at all for maybe 1 year, 2 years, longer, who knows whether we get any agreement or not.

Clearly, that exposes our country in ways I do not think we want to, and it certainly is no guarantee of an increase in the inspections themselves.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I will not engage in a long discussion. I don't know if the Senator from Indiana wants to say something.

First of all, I am envious of that flight. I would love to have made that. Secondly, as the Senator knows--and I think I will reserve most of this for the classified session tomorrow--we have great ability to observe construction in Siberia or any part of Russia and to notice changes of various kinds, notwithstanding the vastness. Yes, there have been occasions when there have been some misunderstandings or differences of opinion about enforcement requirements. We have had some differences on those things. We can again discuss some of those in closed session. But the treaties have worked. The process set up by which we get into dispute resolution and sort of raise these issues has worked. When we notice something they are doing that we think is, in fact, not in compliance or likewise when they have with us, we have gotten together, and, because of the treaty, we have come into a discussion, and we have worked those things through.

I think our intelligence community's conclusion is that they have never exceeded the limits, though there have been some misunderstandings about sort of the process of getting from one place to another with respect to one system or another.

Let's have that discussion in a place where we can do it without a sense of restraint, but I think it is a good one to have. I look forward to continuing that with my colleague.

I don't know if the Senator from Indiana has anything he wants to add.

Mr. President, I understand the Senator from South Dakota will not be here, so unless there is another Senator seeking recognition or looking for an amendment to be acted on at this point, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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