|"Forget the Rest" blog|
Prepared Testimony of Christopher E. Paine
We are not persuaded that the document which lies before you rises to the level of what the legal profession would call a “legally cognizable” treaty obligation – that is, an agreement with binding, self-evident reciprocal obligations, such that an impartial authority, or the parties themselves, can reasonably ascertain these mutual obligations and adjudicate compliance.
Whatever the treaty’s immediate political value to Presidents Putin and Bush, as a legally binding agreement it is a sham, a mere “memorandum of conversation” masquerading as a treaty. And that raises the question of whether the Senate can or should ratify the treaty in its present form, without the addition of significant binding conditions to cure the most serious defects.
Lest we forget, a treaty once ratified becomes part of the law of the land, and no Senator, or committee of Senators, should knowingly vote for a law that is so flawed in its construction that its essential mandates cannot be divined, adjudicated, or enforced.
Mr. Chairman, the present agreement brings to mind an old nostrum that was once very popular with some of our Republican friends: “A bad treaty is worse than having no treaty at all.” It may actually be quite apt in this case.
Unfortunately, the legal deficiencies in this agreement are just the surface manifestation of a much deeper problem. Mr. Chairman, this Administration is abandoning binding, verified nuclear arms control agreements as a tool of American diplomacy. It is systematically replacing cooperative approaches to security, based on verified mutual or multilateral arms prohibitions and constraints, with unilateral military preparedness and preemptive strike planning.
saw it first with the President’s rejection of the CTBT, an agreement
a stunningly bad tradeoff. As a consequence of these misplaced priorities,
the Moscow Treaty imposes no limitation whatsoever on the current or future
All categories of nuclear warheads and delivery systems are left uncontrolled, including tactical nuclear systems. Even the treaty’s sole purported limit, on “operationally deployed strategic warheads” turns out to be hollow, a public relations stunt that expires the moment it enters into force.
Chairman, this agreement does not require the destruction of a single
This treaty is clearly not an “effective measure” within the meaning of the NPT, Mr. Chairman, and even a cursory reading of the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review will convince you that this agreement was not undertaken as a “good faith” step toward nuclear disarmament.
would have thought, after Sept. 11, that reducing nuclear proliferation
Mr. Chairman, this new element of our nuclear posture – planning the use of US weapons of mass destruction to preempt the possible use of WMD by other nations – wreaks havoc with our nuclear nonproliferation obligations and assurances, and only validates and encourages other nations in their quest for similarly destructive deterrent and war-fighting capabilities.
Let me outline the most salient problems with the Moscow Treaty:
(1) The effective date of the treaty’s only constraint – a reduction to 2200 ten years hence in what President Bush calls “operationally deployed strategic warheads” -- precisely coincides with the treaty’s expiration.
I of the treaty states that a reduction to 2200 “strategic nuclear warheads”
shall occur “by
Moscow Treaty does not provide for sublimits or interim reduction levels or require a Party to reach the final reduction level prior to
Article IV provides that the treaty “shall remain in force until
Before the only obligation in the treaty becomes legally binding on the parties, the treaty expires. Truly, this is the kind of arms control “treaty” that even Saddam Hussein could love.
It is also a matter for the attention of your legislative counsel. In light of the aforementioned facts, the question you should pose to them is this: “Does the Moscow Treaty actually contain any legally binding obligation on the parties to do anything?”
My own personal view is that it does not, and that the intent of the treaty expressed in the preamble – “to implement significant reductions in strategic arms” – is not borne out in the binding articles. Obviously, as a supporter of deep nuclear arms reductions, I’m eager to be proven wrong.
(2) The treaty lacks verification and inspection provisions of any kind.
Mr. Chairman, exactly a decade ago this month, you offered Condition 8 to the START I Treaty Resolution of Ratification, which was adopted and remains binding on the President. This condition reads as follows:
“In as much as the prospect of the loss of control of nuclear weapons or fissile material in the former Soviet Union could pose a serious threat to the United States and to international peace and security, in connection with any further agreement reducing strategic offensive arms, the President shall seek an appropriate arrangement, including the use of reciprocal inspections, data exchanges, and other cooperative measures, to monitor –
(A) the numbers of nuclear stockpile weapons on the territory of the Parties to this Treaty; and
(B) the location and inventory of facilities on the territory of the parties to this treaty capable of producing or processing significant quantities of fissile material.”
Now it’s obvious, Mr. Chairman, that the Moscow Treaty makes no provision for the measures outlined in the Biden Condition. It is unclear, from the testimony received to date, whether the Administration even sought to establish such reciprocal arrangements in connection with the current treaty, as the condition requires.
The committee has received a variety of conflicting responses on this point:
Secretary Rumsfeld testified, “We saw no need to include detailed verification procedures in this treaty” because “there simply isn’t any way on Earth to verify what Russia is doing with all their warheads and their weapons.”
But General Myers testified, “we pushed hard on a verification regime…trying to get some action there, and it just never materialized.”
the other hand, the general’s prepared statement suggested that a virtue
of the Moscow Treaty is that “it will not subject the
Powell testified that START I verification procedures “would give us transparency
as we go below the START level,” but he did not explain how this would
apply to problem of monitoring
another point in the transcript, Secretary Powell states: “This treaty
has nothing to do with the problem” of loose nukes and materials flowing
Mr. Chairman, I would point out that the Nunn-Lugar program did not originate in a void, but rather came into being to help Russia and the other new states of the former Soviet Union carry out their START I and NPT commitments. There obviously has to be further US-Russian agreement of some kind on “comprehensive threat reduction” in order to expand the scope and effectiveness of the Nunn-Lugar program. The Moscow Treaty provides no real basis for expanding this effort. I doubt that verifying the future force loadings on Russian strategic bombers and missiles was what Senators Nunn and Lugar had in mind when they began this program.
There are sufficient inconsistencies in the hearing record for the Committee to be concerned. To sort this out, I think you will need to obtain the negotiating record of the discussions concerning verification. What is the real explanation for the lack of progress on this front.?
One prong of the Bush Administration’s strategy for burying negotiated arms control has been to publicly profess a commitment, not to verification, but to increased “transparency,” by which they apparently mean a kind of informal, anemic substitute for negotiated, mandatory, reciprocal, and intrusive verification.
The Moscow Treaty’s lack of any verification provisions appears designed to cater to, or perhaps hide behind, the traditional Russian penchant for nuclear secrecy, a penchant shared in no small degree by the President’s own national security team.
The Bush team has deftly implemented their new approach by unilaterally announcing – indeed virtually dictating – that the two sides pursue ill-defined unilateral reductions, rather than a negotiated treaty containing clear, specific reciprocal obligations, and the specific modalities to verify them.
By radically condensing, or more accurately skipping, the treaty negotiating process, this approach has the short-term political benefit of appearing to achieve more rapid “progress” than the previous formal START negotiating process.
But this too is an illusion. Unless this committee and the full Senate intervenes, the Moscow Treaty will clearly permit larger strategic nuclear arsenals, over a longer period of time, than those contemplated in the agreed Helsinki framework for START III, and much larger arsenals than would have ensued from a good faith, serious arms reduction negotiations between the parties.
Given all the effusive hype from his subordinates, I wonder if the President understands that his Moscow Treaty is actually “START III- Lite” – that is, the 2500 warhead limit from the 1997 Clinton-Yeltsin Helsinki accord, modified by some accounting gimmicks to exclude several hundred warheads associated with strategic systems in overhaul.
In the context of this agreement, the 1700 number defining the low end of the range of operational deployments is meaningless -- pure window dressing, added only to help Putin narrow the public relations gap with Russia’s proposal for a 1500 warhead limit, and to create the political illusion that President Bush is a more daring risk taker for peace than Bill Clinton.
Despite these maneuvers, the unfortunate fact remains that under the Moscow Treaty, America’s and other nations’ nuclear security remains unpredictably in the hands of Vladimir Putin and his successors, unmediated by any firm, long-term treaty obligations to reduce, monitor, secure, or destroy Russia’s nuclear arms.
(3) The treaty lacks any interim reduction milestones for assessing compliance.
The treaty permits either side to do nothing, or even to increase its operationally deployed strategic, theater, and tactical nuclear forces, for a period of ten years prior to the evanescent culminating moment of simultaneous compliance-cum-dissolution.
As a purely legal matter, the treaty as now written would permit either or both sides to simply invoke President Bush’s counting rules and declare, at 1 minute to midnight on Dec. 30th, 2012, that the necessary fraction of its force to be compliant with the 2200 warhead limit had just entered overhaul, and was therefore not part of the “operationally deployed” force. A few seconds, minutes, days, or weeks later, this rather substantial force could emerge from overhaul and threaten someone.
Now, for the political and financial reasons stated by Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, I’m not expecting that this is an immediate concern, but it is certainly possible under the terms of the agreement, and it sets a terrible precedent that the treaty contains no intrinsic safeguards against it.
And it certainly raises the question, will all of the Bush Administration’s future arms control endeavors be this devoid of substance, provided of course, that there are such further endeavors – a prospect that this treaty certainly leads one to doubt.
Administration officials who have come before this Committee have all
said that this President doesn’t and won’t care how many warheads
But, Mr. Chairman, a future President might not be comfortable with that. Members of this body might not be comfortable with that. Depending on when and where Russia rolled out these additional weapons, some of our European allies, Japan, or China might not be comfortable with that, and their responses could easily rebound on our own and global security.
President Bush may think that his own comfort level, buttressed by the thousands of potentially deployable nuclear weapons he plans to keep in reserve, would remain undisturbed, but the nation’s and the world’s might not, and that’s precisely why the Constitution requires the advise and consent process, so that treaties reflect more than the personal predilections of Presidents.
I simply don’t believe Secretary Powell’s testimony on this point, however
well–intentioned it might be. Certainly no modern Republican president
-- indeed no President of either Party -- has ever withstood the political
pressures that would ensue from the development of such a nuclear disparity
the whiff of nuclear parity
More to the point, if one were to take the Secretary’s statement at face value, there would be no need for the large nuclear “responsive force” outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review.
fact, Secretary Rumsfeld attested to quite the opposite position, when
he stated that in the event a country decided to “try to sprint toward parity or superiority
in nuclear capabilities,” the
(4) There is no agreed definition or common understanding of what is being reduced.
Article I of the treaty states that the United States will implement it along the lines stated by President Bush on November 13, 2001, that is, by reducing “operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads,” a category that the U.S. side says excludes warheads associated with strategic delivery systems in overhaul and “spare strategic nuclear warheads (including spare ICBM warheads) located at heavy bomber bases.”
Article I also states that Russia will implement it based on two broad statements by President Putin in November-December of 2001, in which he referred to Russia’s readiness to “legally formalize the agreements that have been reached on further drastic, irreversible, and verifiable reductions in strategic offensive arms, which we believe should be at the level of 1500-2200 nuclear warheads for each side.”
Putin’s sentiment is reiterated in the Preamble, which says the Parties are “committed to implementing significant reductions in strategic offensive arms.” As clearly evidenced by the testimony the Committee has already received to date, the present Administration does not consider the reductions called for in this agreement to be “irreversible,” – Secretary Rumsfeld has attacked the very notion of irreversibility -- or as applying to “strategic offensive arms,” a term that has historically included strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and their associated launchers.
So right out of the box, this treaty is so loosely crafted that, if either party were ever to regard the other’s compliance as a serious concern, the text carries within it obvious seeds for significant future discord.
It also permits unlimited production of new nuclear warheads of all types, unlimited deployment of new tactical nuclear weapon systems, and (after START expires in 2009) unlimited production and deployment of new strategic delivery systems. In what respect, then, does the treaty itself -- as opposed to the unilateral actions that each party may (or may not) take in conjunction with it – make the world a safer, more predictable, more proliferation-resistant place? I can’t see that the treaty as currently drafted does anything to advance those goals.
The Treaty erodes the very concept of negotiated binding arms control treaties as a means of reducing the nuclear threat and enhancing international security.
The Bush team clearly prefers the freedom to modernize and deploy nuclear weapons as it sees fit over efforts to strengthen international norms against the possession and use of such weapons. In the Moscow Treaty it has sacrificed the important arms control goals of predictability, verifiability, and warhead accountability to achieve a degree of unilateral nuclear flexibility that this nation does not need, and will never have occasion to use, either as a deterrent threat or for defense.
example, under the Moscow Treaty, the Bush Administration plans to deactivate
the MX/Peacekeeper ICBMs in phases over a three-year period beginning
The Administration’s plans call for the MX missile silos to be retained, rather than destroyed as specified in the START II Treaty. MX missile stages will also be retained, and the 500+ W87 warheads shifted to the Minuteman III ICBM Force, which is in the midst of being rebuilt and modernized at a cost of some $6 billion.
Between now and 2013, the Pentagon will spend at least another $10.4 billion on the Trident II system, including an additional 115 Trident II missiles ($4.3 billion) and modernizing guidance systems and missile electronics ($4 billion).
of the current Trident ballistic missile submarines will be converted
– at a cost that will surely be in the billion dollar range – to each
carry up to 154 conventional cruise missiles, but after
(6) The treaty has an exceedingly permissive withdrawal clause.
In place of the usual six months advance notice of withdrawal, and an accompanying required statement to the parties of the extraordinary events that have jeopardized its supreme national interests, we find that each party to the Moscow Treaty may “exercise its national sovereignty” and withdraw from the treaty upon three months written notice.
this is hardly a major issue for a treaty that is so poorly constructed
that it arguably has no cognizable legal obligation, it sets a poor precedent,
reinforcing the broader message that the
to the administration’s article-by-article analysis, this formulation
was chosen to “allow greater flexibility for each Party to respond to
unforeseen circumstances.” Again,
this is a formulation that would
no doubt play well in
Mr. Chairman, you and Senator Helms requested a nuclear arms reduction treaty, and instead the Administration has sent you a two-and-half page memo, referencing vague unilateral statements of the two leaders, which is missing everything one would rightfully expect in an arms control treaty, and is self-nullifying to boot.
We have to ask ourselves, why would anyone consciously and deliberately choose to draft a treaty in this manner? Is this Mr. Bolton’s idea of an inside joke – just one more opportunity to get his digs in against the proponents of negotiated arms control agreements and the rule of law in the international sphere. If so, it’s too cute by half.
To give you my own gut reaction, Mr. Chairman, I think that what the Administration has done with this treaty demeans the whole treaty-making process, and makes this nation look foolish before the community of nations. I feel a deep sense of discouragement that the Executive Branch can’t summon the political will to do a better job, using the preventive tools of diplomacy and cooperative verification to reduce the threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. And I suspect that a lot of people in this town and around the country are similarly discouraged by what is taking place.
This treaty is not worthy of being ratified in its present form. To make it minimally acceptable, the committee is going to have to perform major reconstructive surgery via the Resolution of Ratification.
In between bouts of self-congratulation for producing such a miniscule treaty, and its frequent swipes at negotiated arms control agreements, the Administration is missing the larger point. Since the Gorbachev era, nuclear arms control and non-proliferation concerns have essentially merged. Secretary Rumsfeld and others continue to use “Cold War arms control” as a whipping boy, as though they’ve only just discovered that the issue of fine-tuning the nuclear strategic balance is no longer relevant.
After 1989 and the ensuing disintegration of the Warsaw Pact threat to Europe, the military justification for maintaining a wholly separate, insulated strategic arms control forum steadily eroded. From a national security perspective, the central arms control problem became, and remains today, controlling and reducing the total universe of nuclear weapons – strategic, theater, and tactical – as well as the fissile materials used to manufacture them, not just in Russia and the U.S., but around the globe.
The September 11 attacks have reinforced a particularly urgent dimension of this problem – keeping these weapons and materials out of the hands of black marketers, terrorist organizations, and proliferant states. We need to stop wasting time and get on with the important work of building the elements of an international cooperative regime to do that.
From this unified perspective, which we believe is the correct one, it’s readily apparent that it is the Administration that is clinging to an anachronistic approach – that is, a narrow strategic agreement, much narrower even than START, addressing only the subcategory of “operationally deployed strategic warheads. ”
This is an agreement whose only discernible rationale is
to satisfy current and future US nuclear targeting requirements and this
Administration’s desire for permanent
Secretary Rumsfeld’s words, the high
When it comes to reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons, Mr. Chairman, less is not more. Less is less. Less verification, less cooperative inspection, less warhead and launcher destruction, and less accountability mean less security.
The Administration only seems interested in ratcheting up the rhetoric, and the weapons, to deal with the proliferation problem after the weapons and materials have fallen into the wrong hands, rather than dealing with the problem at the source, by building bilateral and multilateral elimination-and-control regimes that would make it increasingly difficult for bad actors to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.
Fixing the Treaty
Mr. Chairman, how should the Senate respond to these serious deficiencies in the Moscow Treaty?
One approach would be for the committee to inform the President that the treaty he has submitted fails to meet the Senate’s minimum standards and expectations for an arms control agreement, and invite him to do better.
NRDC does not prefer this course of action, we perceive no serious downside risks
to our relations with
We’re told that armed with the recommendations of the Nuclear Posture Review, President Bush doesn’t even care how many nuclear warheads the Russians deploy, and we hear that STRATCOM has never been happier with the paper performance of US nuclear forces against Russia’s declining target base.
for President Putin, he is, as we all know, a very cool customer who has
no track record or particular interest in nuclear arms control. But one
thing he does know is that it is untenable economically for
But it’s also clear that Russia would have preferred lower and more predictable levels of strategic nuclear forces than those included in this agreement, and getting to lower levels is not likely to happen if you simply kick this agreement back to the White House.
Moreover, knowing the predilections of President Bush and his political team, we would very quickly hear a great hue and cry about how the Senate is obstructing the President’s bold initiative to liquidate the legacy of the Cold War, and few Democrats are going to want to pitch the President that political softball as we head into the mid-term elections.
Our chief concern, however, is that the Bush Administration would seize upon an outright rejection of the treaty as an excuse to ditch the remainder of the nuclear nonproliferation agenda in Russia, such as better controls on Russian tactical warhead inventories, and reciprocal verification of nuclear warhead storage, dismantlement, and disposition of the fissile material components.
So the preferred course of action, we believe, is for the Committee to proceed with its due diligence investigation of what this treaty means and what its portends for the future of US and Russian nuclear forces and the broader security environment in the world, and then transmit it for consideration by the full Senate with whatever conditions are required to make it a minimally acceptable, verifiable instrument of nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation.
In this connection, I draw the Committee’s attention to Secretary Powell’s responses to the concerns members expressed regarding the still high levels of operationally deployed and reserve nuclear forces permitted by the treaty, and the lack of reduction milestones that could provide waypoints for verifying the implementation of the treaty.
The Secretary testified that the Moscow Treaty “allows you to have as many warheads as you want,” but that it had nonetheless “pressurized the system to take the first step in elimination of a warhead, and that’s to get if off the bomber and get it off the top of a missile.” It was now up to the Congress, he noted, to determine the subsequent pace and extent of US nuclear stockpile reductions and dismantlement.
Mr. Chairman, that stance clears the decks of a lot of the arguments that used to clutter debates about weapons systems and nuclear arms treaty ratification. Remember all those arguments we used to hear about “bargaining chips,” “maintaining our negotiating leverage,” and “not undercutting our arms negotiators in Geneva.” We are pleased that the long-time opponents of arms control agree that these arguments are no longer relevant. We never thought they were.
Within the ten-year reductions framework of the treaty, the Senate should feel free to condition its consent to ratification upon the President’s implementation of accelerated interim reduction milestones and cooperative verification measures that will inject increased predictability and accountability into the nuclear arms reduction process over the next decade.
Let me outline a set of suggested conditions that NRDC and the Study Group believe will accomplish these objectives:
First, we are not aware of any compelling justification for taking ten years to reach the level of 2200 operationally deployed warheads, only to have that limit expire. This trajectory is far too open-ended, and signals no U.S. commitment at all to the broader nonproliferation and disarmament objectives embodied in US obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty.
While we do not for a moment accept the need for the US to maintain preemptive nuclear strike options against terrorist organizations or their state sponsors, let us stipulate for the sake of argument that such a need might exist in the dangerous world in which we live. Sustaining capabilities for this mission cannot justify the maintenance of 3800 operationally deployed strategic weapons until 2007, or even 2200 warheads in 2012.
In fact, the warheads for the nuclear counter-terror mission will more likely be drawn from the non-strategic stockpile, and like the nuclear armed sea-launched cruise missiles, these need not even be operationally deployed, but rather part of a very small “responsive force.” In other words, a nuclear hedge against WMD terrorism, should we elect to maintain one, is not dependent on the size of the operationally deployed strategic force.
So we can foresee no valid objection to moving down more swiftly than contemplated by the Nuclear Posture Review and the permissive terms of the treaty that’s wrapped around it.
Condition 1: Direct the President to achieve a peacetime ceiling of 1700 operationally deployed strategic weapons within five years.
This ceiling should be achieved not later than December 31, 2007, and not exceeded thereafter, unless the President certifies to Congress that an adversary, or hostile coalition of adversaries, is deploying or preparing to deploy more operational strategic nuclear weapons than deployed by the United States, or that the United States faces an imminent danger of nuclear attack, the deterrence of which requires the operational deployment by the United States of a larger number of strategic weapons.
Condition 2: Direct the President to bring down the active US nuclear reserve stockpile to 1000 weapons or less within five years, and either verifiably store or retire and dismantle inactive stockpile weapons.
We believe there is an urgent need for both countries, but especially Russia, to reduce the future security risks, strategic uncertainties, and financial costs associated with the maintenance and storage of large stocks of nuclear weapons in an operationally ready reserve status.
We recommend a condition that
directs the President to take all steps necessary to ensure that, beginning
(a) stored in secure facilities subject to periodic US-Russian bilateral cooperative monitoring measures, or
(b) retired from the DoD stockpile, transferred to NNSA custody,
and dismantled, or scheduled for dismantlement, prior to
This condition should also direct the President to ensure that the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration put in place, and continue implementing in good faith, an effective US-Russia cooperative nuclear threat reduction program that affords both nations reciprocal confidence that they are pursuing parallel reductions in reserve nuclear stockpiles – including tactical weapons – to significantly lower levels.
We agree with the Secretary of Defense that numerical parity between the two sides in each reserve warhead category – whether tactical, theater, or strategic – is not a requirement.
We believe a suitable annual waiver for this condition can be devised, and invoked in the event the President’s certifies that vigorous good-faith efforts to implement bilateral verification arrangements with Russia have failed to establish a credible upper limit, consistent with US security and global strategic stability, on the number of active nuclear reserve stockpile weapons retained by Russia. The waiver could also be invoked if the President certifies that another specific and credible threat to national security has emerged that requires the retention and maintenance of a US active reserve stockpile larger than 1000 weapons.
Condition 3: Direct the President to reduce the total stockpile of nuclear weapons in the custody of the Department of Defense to 3500 weapons within five years.
This condition, with waiver
provisions similar to the preceding condition, would direct the President
to take all necessary steps to ensure that after September 30, 2007, the
total active and inactive stockpile of nuclear weapons in the custody
of the Department of Defense does not exceed 3500 weapons of all types,
strategic and non-strategic. This condition would cap the total US nuclear stockpile five years
hence at a bit more than a third of the total number of
Condition 4: “Pressurize” a Choice Between Verified Component Storage or Demilitarization and Disposal.
This condition would be designed, in Secretary Powell’s phrase, to “pressurize the system” to make a choice: either implement long-term but transparent storage of dismantled US and Russian weapon components under cooperative monitoring arrangements, or pursue prompt conversion of such excess components into spent nuclear fuel elements or other proliferation resistant, environmentally protective forms so that they can be safeguarded by the IAEA and ultimately placed in a permanent underground repository. One way or another, all excess weapon-usable nuclear material should be brought as rapidly as possible under some form of monitored secure storage.
Condition 5 : Annual Cooperative Monitoring Report
In view of the threat posed to the United States, and other future targets of terrorist attack, from the seizure or clandestine theft by terrorists of a nuclear weapon, weapon component, or weapon quantity of fissile material, this condition would direct the President to prepare a report to Congress, on or before March 1, 2003, and annually thereafter, on the progress of Executive Branch negotiations with Russia, and potentially other parties, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, to achieve cooperative bilateral, multilateral, or international monitoring of Russian, U.S., and other nuclear weapon stockpiles, including the secure storage, dismantlement and ultimate disposition of all warheads and weapon-usable fissile materials not associated with operationally-deployed launchers or delivery system.
Condition 6: Requirement for Senate Advice and Consent to Exercise Withdrawal Clause.
This condition would simply
state that in order to give notice of and exercise the
The Constitution is silent on the relative prerogatives of the President and the Senate with respect to the termination, as opposed to the ratification, of US treaty commitments. That appears to leave the President bound to observe the will of the Senate as expressed in each individual case. When the Senate has circumscribed the President’s freedom-of-action by a expressing a prior interest in the matter, either via statute, sense-of-the Senate resolution, or a resolution of ratification, it would appear the President may not act alone to terminate a treaty.
The testimony provided to the Committee clearly indicates that absent such a condition, the current President would not seek the Senate’s advice and consent to withdraw from this treaty, and the Judicial Branch could well affirm his authority in this instance.
This condition is also badly needed now to demonstrate to the rest of the world that, despite this President’s unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the United States government takes it arms control undertakings seriously, and will not lightly withdraw from them.
With the addition of these six conditions, the Administration’s “Memo Treaty” could be made minimally acceptable, and we could then support its ratification. Without them, we believe the treaty is, for all practical purposes, meaningless. In that case, in order to avoid further damage to the integrity of the U.S. treaty process, we could not support ratification of the Moscow Treaty.
Postscript: A Defense of Nuclear Arms Control Agreements
I share the Chairman’s amazement at the sudden epiphany experienced by some of our Republican colleagues who, well into the post-Soviet era, continued to press the case for the most stringent arms control verification requirements and the most rigorous assessments of Russian compliance, only recently decertifying Russia from expanded Nunn-Lugar assistance because of ostensible compliance concerns.
Now, somewhere on the road from the Crawford Summit, these gentlemen, like St. Paul of Tarsus, came upon a Burning Bush, and verily, they have flip-flopped.
The very people who just a few years ago were loading up the START II Resolution of Ratification with all manner of verification and compliance issues, and who attacked the massive Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty monitoring system as insufficient, are now saying they’re comfortable trusting President Bush’s pal Putin, a tough-as-nails former KGB agent who exercises authoritarian rule over a not very open or democratic Russia, with a considerable assist from the KGB’s successor, the FSB.
For decades, the advocates of US nuclear superiority devised esoteric treaty evasion scenarios, and then insisted on the most stringent verification requirements, as a way of fending-off limits on the US nuclear posture that they believed would unduly restrain US nuclear war-fighting capabilities, limit “flexible” nuclear response options, or more generally, “erode the credibility of the US nuclear deterrent.”
Basically, they used the verification issue as a club to beat back arms control.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s unexpected idealism, and
the rapid disintegration of the Soviet empire in the early 90’s, opened
new political possibilities – here, in
There were even proposals from well-known establishment figures, such as INF negotiator Paul Nitze and then House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin, suggesting that “denuking” the US military posture and the global elimination of nuclear arsenals would be in the US national security interest. The government of Australia, a close ally, sponsored a high level international commission in 1995-96 that studied this question and reached agreement on practical interim steps toward global nuclear weapons elimination.
To reliably stifle arms control agreements in this new environment, the die-hard aficionados of nuclear first use threats and so-called credible nuclear deterrence can no longer count on knee-jerk levels of East-West distrust, or supposedly inexorable nuclear “requirements” for deterring “Soviet aggression,” to carry the day against arms control.
So they have been driven to adopt a new strategy, which, I will concede, is politically quite clever, but also deeply cynical and terribly shortsighted. The new approach is simply to declare the entire arms control process obsolete, and to belittle it publicly as a needlessly adversarial vestige of the Cold War.
This misguided approach consistently confuses cause and effect. The arms control process itself was not a major, or even minor cause, of the adversarial relationship between the USSR and the United States, but rather this process reflected, as one might reasonably expect, the up and downs and stresses of the broader US-Soviet relationship.
Our fundamentally opposed ideologies and geo-political interests, and the imperatives of massive nuclear weapon complexes whose very raison d’etre resided in constantly improving capabilities for the preemptive annihilation of the opposing side, were the proximate causes of this adversarial relationship – not the arms control process itself.
As the Secretary of Defense well knows, it was the quest for relative military advantage within the nominal framework of rough nuclear parity between the two sides that lent a particularly adversarial quality to the strategic offensive arms negotiations.
Now that U.S. and Russian interests are more closely aligned, the logical conclusion I draw is that the U.S. and Russian cooperative arms control efforts could accomplish much more than they did during the Cold War. How ironic that the U.S. government has chosen this moment to throw in the towel on arms control.