No Excuse to Push New START in Lame Duck

Oct 14, 2010

After the election in November, it is likely that the Obama Administration will attempt to ram the New START ("Strategic Arms Treaty") through the Senate in a lame duck session. As is widely known, Heritage Action has numerous problems with the treaty and is urging Senators to oppose the treaty's ratification.

One of the arguments now being made by proponents of the treaty for a quick ratification is that our current verification agreements-the rules that set forth how we know what Russia is up to-expired last December with the earlier START and that we are somehow vulnerable as a nation. For instance, according to Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), "the problem of the breakdown of our verification, which lapsed December 5, is very serious and impacts our national security."

Not so.

Both the U.S. and Russia signed a joint statement shortly after START expired that they would work in the spirit of the lapsed treaty while a new treaty was being negotiated and ratified. This agreement is still in effect. The U.S. also has other ways to monitor the Russians' strategic force, such as reconnaissance, in the absence of treaty-based verification measures.

The current lapse in the verification measures is no reason to rush START through in a lame duck by Senators who may have just been voted out of office, especially when there are so many outstanding concerns ranging from its negative impact on our missile defense systems to its (ironically) weaker verification measures.

For more information on this aspect of the debate, see the following web memo from the New START working group at The Heritage Foundation.