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Treaty with Russia on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KERRY. This is very important to the sort of understanding of where we are here and what the real differences are.

All of these systems, all three--DOD has scheduled and put out a timeline. Now, they have to go through that process. The fact is, they have stated in the 1251 report that they are going to replace the Ohio class submarine when it commences scheduled retirement in 2027. I do not think President Obama is going to be there in 2027, unless there is some extraordinary transition in America. So this goes way beyond this administration in terms of a decision and in terms of a Congress. The Navy is going to sustain the existing Trident II through at least 2042. That is on the books right now with the robust life extension program. The current Minuteman life extension program will keep the fleet in service through 2030. And DOD has already begun the preparatory studies on replacement options, which will begin in 2012. And the soon-to-be-completed long-range bomber issue the Senator just raised is only on what type of new bomber is needed, not whether there will be a new bomber.

So the future Congresses and future administrations are really going to make this decision. So to suggest that somehow the Obama administration can right now have this treaty held accountable to decisions where every one of those delivery platforms is going to be in existence well beyond the life and public service of any of us here I think is a completely inappropriate standard.

I would ask my colleague, why a 2027 date and a 2042 date and a 2030 date and a commitment to a bomber, even though they do not know what kind of bomber, why that is not satisfactory?

Mr. KYL. Let me answer a question with a question.

First of all, given the fact that I think we are taking 30-minute segments each and we are having a debate here, can we agree that we will debate until 7 o'clock, and you can have half the time and I will have half the time? Either that or I am going to have to quit yielding to make my points.

Mr. KERRY. No, no, no. I appreciate that. And the Senator is always good about engaging in this.

Mr. KYL. And I am happy to do it either way.

Mr. KERRY. I just think it is important to get it out. I do not need that time. I think it is important. I want Senator Kyl to have his time--

Mr. KYL. Let me respond to this question.

Mr. KERRY. And I will not interrupt him, but I wanted to try to see if we could not engage a little in what the Senate does, which is debate.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Arizona. I want to take a moment, though, to address this point he made--I think it is central--and then we can talk about it. Then I want to give Senator Casey an opportunity to speak.

I say to my colleague from Arizona that a lot of us are scratching our heads trying to figure out what we have to do to get the Senator from Arizona to accept yes for an answer--yes on modernization, yes on our willingness to go forward and build a missile defense.

It has been said again and again and again by the highest officials of our government--and I think the President will make some further statement about this, hopefully, within the next hours or the next day--that can indicate the absolute total commitment to proceed forward and the irrelevance of what the Senator is referring to in the context of a statement that is not within the four corners of the agreement, that has no legal binding authority at all--none.

Don't accept my word for it. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, whom I know the Senator respects enormously, said the following on May 25:

So you know the Russians can say what they want. But as Secretary Clinton said, these unilateral statements are totally outside the treaty, and they have no standing. They are not binding. They never have been.

That is one statement.

LTG Patrick O'Reilly is the Director of the Missile Defense Agency. He testified on June 16, and this is a yes:

I have briefed the Russian officials in Moscow, a rather large group of them, in October of 2009. I went through all 4 phases of the phased adaptive approach, especially phase 4. And while the missiles that we have selected, as far as the interceptors in phase 4, as Dr. Miller says, provide a very effective defense for a regional-type threat, they are not of the size that have a long-range to be able to reach strategic missile fields.

He says:

It's a very verifiable property of these missiles, given their size, and so forth. It was not a very controversial topic of the fact that a missile given the size of the payload, could not reach their strategic fields. I have briefed the Russians personally in Moscow on every aspect of our missile defense development. I believe they understand what it is and that those plans for development are not limited by this treaty.

So in the treaty ratification resolution--here I will make the Senator from Arizona happy, but I will also not please him. The happy part: If we want to be purely technical and sort of be kind of literal as to technical writing of some particular thing, can we say that article V has a limitation on strategic defense? Yes, in the most limited technical way we can say there is a limitation. The limitation is that we can't take intercontinental ballistic missile silos, other than the four already grandfathered--the new ones--and convert them into an interceptor missile silo.

In that sense, we have limited something, but have we limited missile defense? As we think about it in its larger strategic context, the answer is, no, not one iota. Why? Because those particular silos cost more money, and in a deficit-conscious age, where we are trying to cut spending, it is a heck-of-a-lot smarter to dig a new hole, build a new silo that is more effective, more efficient, less costly, and does the same thing. That is our plan.

So there is no limitation on the ability to actually deploy missile defense. So if we want to play a technical game on the floor and run away and say: Oh, there is a limitation here; that is terrible, well, you can do that, but it doesn't make sense. It doesn't actually limit the plans of this administration to go forward with real missile defense and with a system that allows us to intercept missiles fired from a silo in a missile field in the United States.

What is more, if we do convert those other silos, we don't have a mechanism for determining what kind of missile is coming out of there. Is it an ICBM or an interceptor? What happens if we are firing one of those missiles to intercept a rogue missile from North Korea or wherever, and the Russians happen to misinterpret it and they don't know what it is--there is no plan or anything that says we can do that.

In fact, we are safer, given the way the administration has decided to deploy this. Here is what the resolution of ratification says: It says in understanding No. 1, missile defense--and this is what we will vote on. It says it is the understanding of the United States that the New START treaty does not impose any limitations on the deployment of missile defenses other than the requirements of paragraph 3 of article V that I just referred to about the silos that we don't want to do anyway, which costs the American people more and will make us less safe. We don't want to do that. So that is in there. That is all that is in there.

It then goes on to say that this provision shall not apply to ICBM launchers that were converted prior to the signature of the treaty. Then paragraph (b) says any additional New START treaty limitation on the deployment of missile defense, beyond that one I just referred to that we are talking about, including any limitations that come out of the Bilateral Consultative Commission, those would require an amendment to the New START treaty which could only enter into force with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. That is it. We have control over whatever might happen beyond that one simple silo issue.

I respectfully suggest we ought to listen to the folks who are telling us what they have accomplished. The Secretary of Defense said, from the very beginning of this process more than 40 years ago, the Russians have hated missile defense. It is because we can afford it and they can't; and we are going to be able to build a good one and are building a good one, and they probably aren't. They don't want to devote the resources to it, so they try to stop us from doing it through political means.

This treaty doesn't accomplish that for them. That is what Secretary Gates has said. This treaty doesn't accomplish it. I believe Secretary of Defense Gates. I believe GEN Patrick O'Reilly, who serves our country with one purpose. He is not a member of a party or here for politics. He believes he is defending the Nation. He says he told the Russians in full that we are doing phase 4. We are going forward.

Finally, Secretary Clinton said to the Foreign Relations Committee that the Obama administration has consistently informed Russia that, while we seek to establish a framework for U.S.-Russian BMD cooperation, the United States cannot agree to constrain or limit U.S. BMD abilities operationally, numerically, qualitatively, geographically, or in other ways. I don't know how much more ``yes'' you can have in statements.

One last thing with respect to the comment about how they can withdraw: Mr. President, they can withdraw for any reason they want, at any point in time, just by noticing us that they are going to do that. Guess what. So can we. Both parties have the right to withdraw. So this isn't some new component they can withdraw from. The point I make to my colleague--and he is very intelligent and knows these issues very well--the Senator from Arizona knows we can't unilaterally get another country to change its perception of how they may feel threatened. That is what drove the arms race for 50 years.

If the United States of America has an ability to knock down their missiles that they think defend them, and all of a sudden they no longer believe those missiles can defend them because we can knock them down, what do you think they are going to do? They are going to scratch their heads and say: Wow, we ought to develop some method to guarantee that they can't knock them down, or that we have enough of them so that we can overwhelm whatever system they have that knocks them down.

We went through this with President Reagan, and we have spent billions trying to pursue this. We understand that.

The fact is, they are just stating a truism. Those are not my words; those are Dr. Henry Kissinger's words, who said all the preamble does is acknowledge that they believe there is a connection. We have stated simultaneously that we don't care if they believe there is a connection. We stated that. Secretary Clinton stated it, Secretary Gates stated it, and the President has said we are going forward with our phase 4.

Now, it is not connected. There is no legal, binding connection whatsoever in this treaty. This treaty does not constrain America's capacity to develop a robust, qualitatively superior, improved system. If we do, we are going to make a decision, when we deploy it, to accept whatever consequences come with whatever shape and form we do deploy. But there is no restraint on our ability to do it.

In fact, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle ought to be leaping at this opportunity because it, in effect, codifies America's intent and codifies our independence and capacity to go off and do what we are going to do. I wish I could get the Senator from Arizona to accept yes.

Mr. KYL. I have a brief response. There are concerns by a lot of colleagues on my side of the aisle, so it is not just a matter of satisfying John Kyl. Let's understand that. I would be happy to take yes for an answer--if that were the answer.

My colleague confuses two things. First, the preamble has been agreed to by both parties. This is not just a Russian statement of intent. The preamble is part of the treaty that we have agreed to. For the first time, it connects missile defense with strategic offensive limitations by saying the current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic arms of the parties.

Secondly, my colleague says it is a technical argument that the treaty otherwise constrains missile defenses. It is more than a technical argument. It specifically does--and there was no place in this treaty for any limitation on missile defenses or how important or unimportant they are. Why would the Russians insist on putting that in there except to establish the beachhead? The point is that, yes, a strategic arms control treaty will deal with missile defense. It does, and the preamble does too by linking the two.

Why is this important? There is not a technical statement in the treaty that says the United States will limit its missile defenses. That is true. But because the Russians interpret the extraordinary events--the technical term under article IV that would permit a country to withdraw--as specifically including the U.S. development of missile defenses that are qualitatively better than we have now, better than current policy, because that is their interpretation, whether or not we agree with that interpretation, we have created a dichotomy between the two parties to a very important contract. They interpret it one way and we interpret it another. What will the inevitable result be? Disagreement between our countries about a fundamental point, one which, according to the Russians, will require them to engage in a new round of the arms race that will begin, according to President Medvedev.

They are saying: If you don't agree with this, under the circumstances we are going to engage in another round of strategic offense weapon building.

What we on our side are concerned about is that President Obama, who has already backed off the deployment of the GBI system, which was the most robust American missile defense system, and has qualified, it appears, the deployment of the fourth phase of the phased adaptive approach, and who other people in the administration speak in terms of that--I am talking about the State Department and our signing statement--they suggest we would only develop a missile defense against a limited or regional threat.

Those are reasons to believe this position of Russia is already working to cause the United States to back away from what would have otherwise been a much more robust development of missile defenses to protect the people of the United States.

So that is the argument we are making. We can say that, technically, anybody can withdraw from the treaty all they want to and the preamble doesn't mean anything or so on. Well, it appears to have already had a significant meaning within this administration is the point we are trying to make.

Mr. KERRY. Well, Mr. President, I want the Senator from Pennsylvania to be able to have his chance, and we are running out of time, but I disagree with the Senator with respect to the judgment he has made with regard to what it does or does not do, and we will have an opportunity to be able to further discuss that component of it.

But let me remind the Senator of what Secretary Gates said this May. He said, under the last administration as well as under this one, it has been the U.S. policy not to build a missile defense that would render useless Russia's nuclear capabilities. It has been a missile defense intended to protect against rogue nations, such as North Korea and Iran or countries that have very limited capabilities. He went on to talk about the expense and capacity we have today.

We are going to continue to develop whatever the best system is we are able to develop that could protect the United States of America. We support that. The administration could not be more clear in its determination to continue to do that, including phase IV. I will submit, when we get time and come back, further statements and further clarification to the Senator that hopefully can give him a comfort level that there is no dichotomy, that we are proceeding forward, and the Russians understand what we are doing.

We should not misinterpret. Preambles have historically incorporated statements that one side or the other need for domestic consumption for their politics. There is no misinterpretation here about where we are headed, what we are committed to do, and I would think the recent announcement by the administration in Lisbon and the embrace of this effort through the European countries, our allies, would be strong testimony to the direction we are moving with respect to this missile defense.

We will continue this. I look forward to doing that with my colleague. I thank him for his courtesy, and I look forward to further discussion.

I yield the floor.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I think we have had a good opportunity throughout today and yesterday to open some of the issues and give colleagues a sense of what is in the treaty, the resolution of ratification, and how it addresses many of the concerns. My hope is, perhaps, as we go out of executive session and into legislative session for a period of time, it will give some of us an opportunity to sit down and work together to see if we can find some of the clarifications that might resolve some of those issues for people.

Senator Lugar and I are both prepared to sit with our colleagues and try to do that, and obviously we look forward to being able to get back to begin the process of legislating on whatever understandings, declarations, and clarifications Senators may have. I would ask my colleagues to carefully read the resolution and look at the many places in which rail-mobile missile defense and all these other issues have been addressed by that resolution.


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