Why do we have treaties? There are a number of possible answers. They could be used to codify things we were going to do anyway. They could be used to build relationships with other nations. They could be used to improve security or trade, or as a symbol of shared values.
Does the new START do any of these? Yes. Should it be ratified accordingly? According to Senator Richard Lugar, yes.
The new START is addressed in an interview with National Journal (posted by the Global Security Newswire) with Senator Lugar.
The interview is Lugar’s endorsement for new START, which he describes as modest. For those who have been exposed to the Senator on arms control issues, he answers the questions true to form. One question, “Do you support the so-called race to zero nuclear weapons?” gets a lengthy response, but the “up or down” intent of the question is ignored.
Late in the interview, Senator Lugar tells us that “Russia’s tactical (nuclear) weapons are not a direct threat to the United States or our NATO allies.” Who are they a direct threat to? Lugar says a “large percentage” of the Russian tactical nuclear weapons are deployed along its border with China. While this may be true, these weapons can of course be moved around. Like to NATO borders.
In fact, tactical nuclear weapons should be of a much larger concern than START itself as just these sorts of weapons are most easily stolen, moved, and transferred. Why weren’t tactical nuclear weapons addressed? Because the Russians don’t want to address the issue.