At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) questioned officials about the successful implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ("New START") to date and looked at how the treaty continues to strengthen America's national security, increases our insight into Russia's nuclear weapons program and contributes to stability between the world's two largest nuclear weapon powers, the United States and Russia.
"The New START Treaty is overwhelmingly in the U.S. national interest because it makes the United States safer. Its implementation has been a success to date--during the first year of its ratification we engaged in the full allocation of 18 on-site inspections of Russian facilities, and we are on the way to the same number this year," said Shaheen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, after the hearing. "The treaty increases transparency, strengthens international stability and gives the Department of Defense the certainty it needs to protect our security in an efficient and cost-effective way. New START continues to have the strong and unanimous support of our nation's military leaders and has my continued support as well."
The witnesses at today's hearing were: Thomas P. D'Agostino, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, U.S. Department of Energy; Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State; and Madelyn R. Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense.
Shaheen discussed with the witnesses whether an "up close and personal" view of Russian weapons systems would be possible without New START. Gottemoeller responded that without the treaty, we would not have the insight into Russia's programs that we do today, saying that the treaty has enhanced predictability, knowledge and mutual confidence. Witnesses also agreed with Shaheen that New START has enabled the Department of Defense to better plan for our national security programs and to save money by more effectively using limited resources.
Shaheen also reaffirmed that the military continues to support the treaty. Gottemoeller noted that U.S. leaders have recognized that such treaties are key to our national security because of the predictability and mutual confidence they produce.
Shaheen worked tirelessly with Senate colleagues to fight for the successful ratification of NEW Start in December of 2010.
New START has allowed the U.S. to resume critical inspections of Russia's nuclear arsenal and ensures that the U.S. can follow former President Ronald Reagan's mantra to "trust, but verify" Russia's nuclear commitments. The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by each nation and allows for each nation to conduct short-notice inspections of the other party's nuclear arsenal. It continues reduction and verification initiatives begun under the START I treaty, originally proposed by President Ronald Reagan and signed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. Enforcement of the New START treaty began on February 5, 2011.
New START has enjoyed bipartisan support and has the unanimous backing of the U.S. military and its leadership, including Secretary Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Commander of America's Strategic Command, and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency. America's military establishment is joined by the support of every living Secretary of State - from Secretary Jim Baker to Secretary Condoleezza Rice - as well as five former Secretaries of Defense, nine former national security advisors, and former Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush.