Postscript on New START

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , ,

Keith Payne isn’t about seashells and bubbles.

Now that the Senate has offered its consent, Payne has reexamined New START and he clearly feels its advocacy campaign was a misrepresentation of reality.

Payne offers:

…in the course of the Russian Duma’s ongoing (New START) ratification process, Russian officials have made public statements confirming the validity of some American skeptics’ concerns. The Obama administration may have been keen to secure Senate consent prior to the Duma’s ratification process in part out of fear of statements like these, and the Russians may have been careful to have the Duma consider the treaty only after Senate passage for the same reason.

Indeed, the Duma is now adding its own interpretation of New START’s preamble (“the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms”).  Instead, the Duma is effectively saying “The preamble is a binding element of the treaty.”  As reported by ITAR-TASS,

The (Duma’s) bill says that the treaty preamble, which indicates the link between strategic offensive armaments and missile defense, must be fully taken into account by the sides and have legal force.

Payne also takes issue with the fundamental non-equitability of the treaty which requires U.S. concessions but none from Russia:

…the number of Russian strategic nuclear forces appeared to be dropping dramatically in the absence of any agreement. This was happening because Russian forces were reaching the end of their service lives en masse — and in this context, Russia surely would like to negotiate an agreement that would compel reductions only in U.S. forces.

OK.  But how was this issue presented to the Senate?

How did the administration respond to the skeptics’ concern that New START would not require real Russian force reductions? It almost always simply ignored or denied the point.  

Ouch.  But there’s more,

…Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov said that Russia will not eliminate any nuclear launcher or warhead before the end of its service life: “We will not cut a single unit.”

Well, even though Payne doesn’t address it, there has to be a pony in this somewhere, right?  How about the New START verification protocols?

Although New START’s verification regime (weaker than its predecessor) can be argued as being better than solely relying on national technical means, that’s a specious argument: weak verification protocols of a lengthy duration don’t necessarily offer better security than the limited duration absence of meaningful on-site verification protocols.

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