Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Oklahoma for the discussion we had yesterday and again today about verification. I know it is an issue he thinks is critical. I think every Senator here is absolutely convinced we need to have the strongest verification regime possible. The fact is that this treaty, the New START treaty, has exactly that. It has an effective verification system. Does it have a perfect system? No treaty that has ever been passed or been negotiated would be that one-sided and be able to achieve that. It is an effective verification system, which is the standard we have used ever since President Reagan negotiated those treaties, and Paul Nitze, one of our great arms control statesmen, really defined that concept of effective verification.

I wish to quote what Secretary Gates said about this. I don't need to remind colleagues, but I guess people in the public who don't necessarily focus on it might be impacted to know that Secretary Gates was appointed by President George Bush, and he was held over as Secretary of Defense by President Obama. By everybody's judgment here in the Senate, he is a man of great credibility and distinction who has worked through many different layers of American government. He is one of the people for whom we have great respect. In a letter he wrote to Senator Isakson this summer, he said:

I believe that the number of inspections provided for by the New START Treaty, along with other verification mechanisms, provides a firm basis for verifying Russia's compliance with its Treaty obligations while also providing important insights into the size and composition of Russian strategic forces.

I know the Senator from Oklahoma is concerned about the number of inspections. He has several times raised the question of cutting the inspections from the original START to the New START. I want to walk through it again so we are absolutely clear.

Comparing the number of inspections under START I to the number of inspections under New START is literally an apples-to-oranges comparison for three reasons--one, today we are only conducting inspections in one country instead of four. Under START I, we had Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, Secretary Gates said this about the--well, let me finish that thought about the difference. So when we had those 4 countries, we had 70 sites that were subject to inspection. Under this treaty, there were 35 sites subject to inspection, but they are all in one country--Russia--because all of the weapons were moved to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Secondly, we are inspecting half as many facilities, and when we inspect those facilities, we, thirdly, have a type one inspection and a type two inspection, which allows us to be able to go in and look at the missile but to also do an update inspection, which is sort of a general inspection of the up-to-date status of the various things we look at in the course of an inspection, which, in effect, really doubles the amount of inspections we have because under START I, if you went in and did an update inspection, that was it. You didn't get to do the missile inspection or vice versa. We really have a two-for-one here. It is disingenuous to reflect that in the comments about how we count here. We are talking about a completely comparable inspection regime under New START as under START I.

Finally, we addressed this question of verification 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 of the United States has to certify to the Senate that our national technical means, in conjunction with New START's verification activities, are sufficient to ensure adequate and effective monitoring of Russian compliance. So we are going to remain right in the center of this issue of verification every year this treaty is in force, and the Senate is going to be part of that process.

Let me briefly turn back to something Senator Thune said earlier. He said this treaty was negotiated with the assumption that the Russians weren't going to cheat. No, Mr. President, it is not accurate that there was any such assumption whatsoever, and that is precisely why we have a verification structure here. It is why we are taking this discussion so seriously, because we don't take people at their word. We have to verify. That is what the verification regime is for.

Let me also be clear on what Secretary Gates said here. Senator Inhofe quoted the Secretary saying that the Russians would not be able to achieve any militarily significant cheating under this verification regime. That is the judgment of our intelligence community, but it doesn't mean that they think or that we think they might not try to cheat. It means that if they do, it is going--if it is militarily significant, we will see it, we will know it, and we will understand exactly what they are doing. So we can respond, as Secretary Gates has, by increasing the size of our force, by increasing the alert level of SSBNs and bombers, and by uploading warheads on bombers, SSBNs, and on ICBMs. There are all kinds of things we can do to respond the minute we notice that kind of militarily significant event.

It is my judgment that this amendment does not give us anything in the way of additional confidence, but it certainly will give us months of unnecessary and even counterproductive renegotiation of the treaty. That means that by reaching for three times the number of inspections, we would guarantee that for months and months we will have zero, absolutely none. That is the tradeoff.

I think we need to get our verification team back in place, and I think that is what is most imperative in terms of the national security interests of the country.

I thank Senator Thune for his amendment. I thank him also for the constructive discussion we have had about these numbers with respect to missiles and bombers in order to maintain our nuclear deterrent.

I think this is another place where it is pretty important for all of us to listen to our military. They have made the judgments here, and they have been very transparent about how they have made those judgments. We have been able to query them in the Armed Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the National Security Working Group. They have arrived at the judgment--not a political judgment but a military judgment--that the treaty's limit of 700 delivery vehicles is perfectly adequate to defend our Nation and our allies at the same time.

As the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, GEN James Cartwright, who was a former strategic commander, said:

I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or that might emerge in the foreseeable future.

This amendment seeks to insert sort of our arbitrary judgment that, oh, we ought to have 20 additional. I remind the Senators what LTG Frank Klotz, the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said. That is the command that oversees ICBMs and bombers. Just last Friday, he said:

I think the START Treaty ought to be ratified, and it ought to be ratified now, this week.

The military came to this conclusion after the Department of Defense conducted a very thorough review of our nuclear posture, including detailed force-on-force analyses. We shared some of that discussion in the classified session earlier. Our nuclear commanders have done the math, run the scenarios, and they have concluded that we only need 700 delivery vehicles.

General Chilton, head of the Strategic Command, said:

The options we provided in this process focused on ensuring America's ability to continue to deter potential adversaries, assure our allies, and sustain strategic stability for as long as nuclear weapons exist. This rigorous approach, rooted in deterrent strategy and assessment of potential adversary capabilities, supports both the agreed-upon limits in New START and recommendations in the Nuclear Posture Review.

I do know the Senator expressed some concern about our ability to field Prompt Global Strike systems. It is true that conventionally armed ICBMs will count toward the treaty's limits, but again, let's listen to what the military says.

Secretary Gates stated for the record that:

Should we decide to deploy them, counting this small number of conventional strategic systems and their warheads towards the treaty limits will not prevent the United States from maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent.

Admiral Mullen said as far back as March that the treaty protects our ability to develop a conventional global strike capability should that be required.

I also point to our resolution of ratification, condition 6, understanding 3, and declaration 3, all of which go toward preserving our ability to deploy conventional Prompt Global Strike forces.

Finally, the Senator raised the possibility that we are moving from a triad to a dyad. I wish to be especially clear on this point. The administration has stated forcefully and again today reiterated in a letter sent to us by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, in which he reiterates the administration's commitment to the triad. As it said in the ``update'' section of the 1251 report:

The administration remains committed to the sustainment and modernization of U.S. strategic delivery systems.

Regarding heavy bombers, that same report says:

DOD plans to sustain a heavy bomber leg of the strategic triad for the indefinite future and is committed to the modernization of the heavy bomber force.

To be clear, our existing nuclear bombers will be in operation at least for the next 20 years, and probably at most this treaty could be a 10- to 15-year treaty. Our existing bombers will outlive this treaty.

The administration has also made clear that we are committed to the triad in the resolution of ratification, including our nuclear bombers. I might add that they have also said they are not going to close bases, and they are not going to reduce the total number of bombers.

I believe there should not be concern on these points.

This amendment, once again, is one of those that would force renegotiation of the entire treaty. I might mention for my colleagues that one of the reasons that is so important to all of us--we can all remember negotiating around here many times on different bills and pieces of legislation. We always begin that negotiation--I can remember Senator George Mitchell, when he was majority leader and we did the complicated Clean Air Act reauthorization in 1990, he would begin every session by reminding people that nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon. We negotiate that way here all the time.

So if all of a sudden nothing is agreed upon and that is the way this treaty was negotiated--if nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon, when you take one piece out of there and change it unilaterally, nothing is agreed upon. At that point, you reopen all of the other issues, and some of them are contentious, which are difficult, which people may have a different view on, and which will affect our relationship.

If this weren't so substantive and I thought we were buying a pig in a poke, I would say I understand why we have to do that.

But the military, our national security people, our national intelligence community--there is not anybody who works at this day to day--our Strategic Command, our National Defense Missile Command--all of them say: Ratify this treaty. And that is what I believe we ought to do as soon as possible.

I reserve the remainder of our time.

Mr. KYL. Madam President, I wonder if I might engage in a colloquy briefly with my colleague from Massachusetts and then propound a unanimous consent agreement.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Shaheen). The Senator from Arizona.

Mr. KYL. Madam President, there are two votes scheduled on the Thune amendment and the Inhofe amendment. Have we locked in the LeMieux amendment yet?

Mr. KERRY. I do not believe so.


Mr. KYL. Madam President, does my colleague anticipate that it is possible there would be a third vote tonight, depending upon whether Senator LeMieux is ready to have that vote?

Mr. KERRY. I suspect the majority leader would be delighted to have another vote if we can. I am speaking without authorization.

Mr. KYL. At some point, just for the benefit of Members, there could theoretically be a third amendment tonight if Senator LeMieux is ready to have that vote and if there is no objection by any other Member.

The other point, I inform my colleague, is I have the exact numbers of the five amendments I would like to get pending. Let me make that request at this time. They are amendments Nos. 4900, McCain amendment; 4893, Kyl amendment; 4892, Kyl amendment; 4867, Kyl amendment; and No. 4860, Kyl amendment. These are all proposed amendments to the resolution of ratification.

I ask unanimous consent that it be in order to call up five amendments to the resolution of ratification; provided further that these be the only amendments in order to the resolution of ratification at this time; and I ask unanimous consent that following the disposition of the amendments solicited, the Senate then resume consideration of the treaty.

Before my colleague responds, I will also say this: I believe there are only four other amendments pending, and one of them is mine. I will agree to waive my right to bring that up. I cannot say for the others, and I need to talk with those Members during the vote. I do not know whether they would want votes on their amendments. In any event, there are no more than three of them. So it is a locked-in number.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. KERRY. Madam President, reserving the right to object, I want to make clear that as we move to these amendments with respect to the resolution of ratification, we are going to preserve the right, then, to go back only to those three that are pending. And the Senator has agreed to make a good-faith effort to see if that could be reduced to simply one; is that accurate?

Mr. KYL. No. I am saying one is mine, and I would eliminate it now.

Mr. KERRY. I understand that the Senator, in our conversation earlier, was going to try to see if the other two could also make the same decision he has made so we, in effect, have one on the treaty itself.

Mr. KYL. If that was the impression, I do not think I can do that. But in any event, I did not try to do that. There are four all told. I would eliminate my one, and there would be a fixed number--only three possibilities after that.

Mr. KERRY. Could we then say for the record which amendment is being withdrawn at this point?

Mr. KYL. It would be the only Kyl amendment remaining pending to the treaty.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. If the Senator will withhold. There is no Kyl amendment pending.

Mr. KERRY. Madam President, if I may say to my colleague, the majority leader would like to work with us in this process. I think what we should do, if I may ask my colleague to do this, I would like to take a moment, if we can, to work through this with the majority leader. We can do it during the votes, and then at the end of the votes we can hopefully propound something that has his engagement.

Mr. KYL. I can tell my colleague that the amendment I would be agreeing not to bring up is amendment No. 4854. I misspoke when I said it is pending. It is filed to the treaty.

Mr. KERRY. I thank the Senator. That helps us a lot. That clarifies it. What I would like to do is work with the majority leader and the Senator from Arizona, and I am sure we can come together, and at the end of the vote we can propound an appropriate UC.

Mr. KYL. I am not willing to withdraw my request. What I am afraid of, quite frankly, is that we are not going to be able to get unanimous consent before a cloture vote on the treaty and we are going to be iced out here.

I have propounded a unanimous consent request. I will be happy to read it again. If there is an objection, fine. I want to get agreement on this, if at all possible.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. If the Senator from Arizona could repeat his request, that would be helpful.

Mr. KYL. I would be happy to. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that it be in order to call up five amendments to the resolution of ratification; provided further that these be the only amendments in order to the resolution of ratification at this time; and I ask unanimous consent that following the disposition of the amendments solicited, the Senate then resume consideration of the treaty.

Mr. KERRY. Reserving the right to object, I personally am supportive of our trying to do that. I have said to the Senator in good faith that we need to have some amendments to the resolution of ratification. We are working on them. I am confident that we will be able to accommodate his request, but I am in a position where I need to have the input of the majority leader to do that. I will personally advocate we do it.

At this moment only, I must object to that request, but I look forward to trying to propound it after the votes.


Mr. KERRY. Madam President, I will be very brief.

I completely agree with the intention of the Senator. I think all of us agree we have to negotiate a tactical nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Unfortunately, this, according to our NATO allies, according to our national security representatives, will actually prevent us from getting to the place where we negotiate that because the first thing we have to do to get the Russians to the table is pass the START treaty.

If we pass the New START treaty, we can engage in these discussions. If we don't pass it, they have no confidence. We simply go back to ground zero and begin negotiating all the pre-START items again before we can ever get there. We cannot just pass this unilaterally and order them to get there. We have to get them to enter into those negotiations. The way to do that is to preserve the integrity of the START treaty and then get to those agreements. We have that in the resolution of ratification.

There is language that urges the President and embraces this notion of the Senator from Florida. I congratulate him for wanting to target it. It is important to target it, and we will do it in the resolution of ratification.

I yield back any time.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top