So what has the New START cram-down done to make the world safer? Mark Schneider reports New START will actually allow the Russians to increase their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Does Russia growing its nuclear arsenal make the United States safer? Apparently it does because the White House blog unequivocally proclaims “The New START Treaty makes America more secure.”
So more Russian nuclear weapons and delivery systems and fewer for the United States equals more U.S. security? The logic of the argument seems… counterintuitive (and that’s being generous). More likely is the New START deal will enhance Russian national power vis-à-vis U.S. and the Russians will be laughing all the way to the nuclear bank. From Mr. Schneider’s article:
Before New START, Russia had already announced plans to build about 130 nuclear missiles of various post–Cold War designs, as well as eight new missile submarines. The country was developing a new strategic bomber to be available in 2025–2030. Moreover, Russia was working to modernize the SS-N-23/Sineva, which had gone into service only in 2007, to have precision accuracy.
After New START, Russia announced the largest nuclear buildup since the Cold War. It revived the symbol of the Cold War, the heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin revealed the development of “a heavy liquid-propellant ICBM” to replace the aging SS-18 (Voyevoda), which itself carries ten warheads. The new missile is to be available by 2018.
The Russians are also looking pretty smart on that new liquid-fueled ICBM: there will almost certainly be a new space launch capability that’s either derived from or will be co-developed with the new ICBM.
So it would appear that the New START deal fits nicely into Russian plans to modernize (and grow) their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The U.S.? Not so much: weapons and delivery vehicle cuts are required and new systems seem further away than ever.
A powerful lesson of New START is the global zeros, of which the President is one, may want to give more thought to the non-efficacy of arms control as a forcing function to enhance security. And while New START gives lip service to non-proliferation, it is a bilateral treaty. This means it has no efficacy (unless posing is the same as efficacy) on the much more serious issue of global nuclear proliferation and contra its stated anti-proliferation aims, actually allows the Russians to modernize and grow their nuclear systems while still maintaining their stylish arms control fig leaf.
The normal entering argument for arms control is that it’s verifiable; that it’s equitable; and that it’s in the national security interests of the United States. The first New START report card on those respective areas shows incomplete, fail, and fail.