New START: Undermining America’s Missile Defense
Editor’s note: Late last week, Heritage Action began sending direct mail to ten states urging Senators to oppose the New START Treaty. Throughout the week, we’ll examine the claims made in the mailer, one-by-one.
Today, let’s look at one of the most discussed criticisms of New START:
Immediately after signing the treaty, Russia issued a “unilateral statement” declaring its intent to withdrawal from the treaty if the U.S. builds up its missile defense capabilities.
[The treaty] can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile defence capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively.
Consequently, the exceptional circumstances referred to in [the withdrawal provision] of the Treaty include increasing the capabilities of the United States of America’s missile defence system in such a way that threatens the potential of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded with a nuanced statement, saying the treaty would not restrict America’s ability to “deploy our planned missile defense systems.” Note the word, “planned.” Mrs. Clinton does not mention whether or not the treaty would limit “future” improvements.
In October, word surfaced that American and Russian negotiators were nearing completion of a separate agreement on missile defense. Six Senators sent a letter to Mrs. Clinton, requesting additional information:
Senators must be assured that these talks and potential missile defense agreements will not limit U.S. and allied missile defense development and deployment in any fashion whatsoever.
Finally, just last week, the Russian Duma moved to delay consideration of the treaty. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Russia’s International Affairs Committee, expressed frustration that U.S. Senators seem to believe the treaty “will on no account limit the Pentagon’s efforts toward deploying missile defenses.”
There is ample evidence to suggest New START limits America’s missile defense capabilities (see full discussion here). Russian officials clearly believe that to be true and that is one of the core objectives. The Senate should not ratify the treaty if Russia and the U.S. cannot agree on the treatment of missile defense.
Fact 1: New START: Could it lead to more nuclear weapons? (11/8/2010)