Is It A Big Deal To Have A Verification Gap While ‘New START’ Is Being Debated?

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Of course arms controllers think it’s a big deal if we have an on-site verification gap of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons.   How about the near-total verification gap regarding Russia’s entire tactical nuclear inventory?  Apparently not a big deal.

The strategic on-site verification gap issue is simply an effort to create an arms control crisis.  Sometimes the crisis is about having an on-site verification gap, sometimes it’s about losing our moral leadership, sometimes it regards resetting relationships.  It seems a crisis is needed to try to sustain public pressure to get the new START ratified.

Why is this strategic on-site verification gap a big crisis?  It isn’t.

Do we really suspect Russia is going to re-MIRV ICBMs and SLBMs that have been de-MIRV’d?  And then, when or if new START is ratified, the Russians would go out to the missile fields and into their subs and re-de-MIRV their missiles into compliance?  Please.  New START is like a spring housecleaning for the Russian nuclear forces–a good excuse to get rid of weapons and delivery systems they no longer want to maintain or need.

Finally, consider the fact a few weeks ago, the Senate received testimony that even if Russia cheated on new START, it would be no big deal.

Now, on-site verification is needed to ensure arms racing doesn’t occur?  Hmm.

Especially disconnected is the opinion that without strategic on-site inspection teams our military would be required “to plan based on worst-case assumptions.”  Actually, the U.S. will not, nor can it, do such a thing.  The implication is worst-case planning would require more U.S. nuclear weapons and delivery systems which won’t happen.

It won’t happen because no U.S. nuclear weapons will be re-mated with delivery systems and no new nuclear weapons will be built.  At this point, there’s neither the funding nor political will to do so.

Other arms control treaties have taken months and even years to ratify.  So why, given the exceedingly low threat of nuclear war we currently face with Russia, shouldn’t we expect rational and if required, deliberate debate?

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