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Op-Ed - The New START Treaty Weakens U.S. National Security


Location: Unknown

By Senator Jim DeMint

Published by the U.S. News & World Report on August 16th, 2010

The concessions President Obama made to Russia to get the New START signed are precisely why the Senate should not ratify it.

New START is another Obama giveaway at the expense of U.S. citizens. The treaty mandates strategic nuclear weapons parity with the progeny of an old Cold War foe, yet allows the Russians to maintain a 10-to-1 tactical nuclear-weapons advantage. Whether in warhead and launcher limits, verification, or missile defense, America loses. The treaty dampens the U.S. ability to defend against missile attacks and makes America and her allies vulnerable to rogue nations while receiving nothing for our concessions.

The Obama administration champions the fact that the treaty would limit both countries to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each. But Russia could maintain its huge stockpile of roughly 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons, thousands more than the United States has, because the treaty doesn't restrict those types, which can also be affixed to rockets, submarines, and attack aircraft.

The treaty's delivery vehicle limit is also troubling. While U.S. land-based missiles only have one warhead each, the Russians use multiple independent re-entry vehicles per missile. Though this is more unstable, it means the Russians can hit more targets with fewer launchers. To add insult to injury, launchers carrying nonnuclear, conventional weapons that have the capability to carry a nuclear weapon would count toward this limit as well. This is another win for the Russians: We depend on our conventional weapons arsenal for nonnuclear deterrence and now some of those weapons would count under the treaty's limits. Another concern about the treaty is that the Russians are modernizing their arsenal and manufacturing new weapons. We are the only nuclear superpower that is neither modernizing nor capable of producing new nuclear weapons.

Either Obama was out-negotiated or he was so intent on getting the treaty signed to secure a diplomatic "win" that he didn't mind giving Russia a clear advantage.

Worse, the New START was crafted without a serious review of past treaty violations. A recent compliance report shows that Russia continually violated the original START. But the administration has turned a blind eye and is permitting even more lax procedures.

The Russians' intentions have been clear. Before Obama signed the treaty, they expressed a desire to make the United States more vulnerable to future attacks. While discussions about the treaty were underway, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin commented on American missile defenses last December, "By building such an umbrella over themselves, [the United States] could feel themselves fully secure and will do whatever they want." And Putin got what he wanted. After Obama signed the treaty, the Russian government issued a statement that the treaty "can operate and be viable only if the United States refrains from developing its missile defense capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively."

Russia should not be permitted to dictate whether we can develop our missile defense capabilities. No negotiations should require a sacrifice of sovereignty. The United States has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens and a moral obligation to protect its allies.

To secure his first major diplomatic victory, Obama used U.S. missile defense systems as a negotiating tool. But national security is not something to be given away.

Read why the New START treaty is a good idea, by John Kerry, Democratic senator from Massachusetts and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

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