Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

GOP Senators Want to See Arms-Compliance Report Before Vote on START Accord

Source: CQ

By Tim Starks

June 16, 2010

A GOP senator who is a key White House ally on a major new arms control treaty warned Tuesday that Senate consideration of the pact risks falling behind — or even failing — if the administration doesn’t deliver crucial documents to Congress soon.

Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, a nonproliferation authority who could possibly sway fellow Republicans to vote to approve ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, said the Obama administration needs to quickly produce a National Intelligence Estimate on Washington’s ability to verify Moscow’s compliance with the treaty. Senate Republicans also want to see a much-anticipated State Department report on stockpile- reduction verification procedures.

President Obama signed the START accord (Treaty Doc 111-5) with Russia in April. Sixty-seven Senate votes are required for ratification.

“The president has declared the new START treaty to be a top legislative objective and has called for Senate approval this year,” Lugar said at a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee, where he is the panel’s top Republican. “Failing to deliver these reviews related to START in expedited fashion would diminish perceptions of the priority of the treaty and complicate Senate debate.”

He added, “Some members of the Senate who are undecided about ratification on the treaty are still focused on this report from the intelligence agencies, quite apart from the additional report from the State Department.”

Those documents are not the only ones being sought by GOP senators. At the same hearing, Jim DeMint, R-S.C. — one of the more vocal skeptics of the treaty — renewed his demand to view negotiation records.

DeMint said that Russia and the United States are saying different things about the pact’s potential restrictions on U.S. missile defense initiatives, particularly those aimed at defeating multiple missile attacks, and he wants to see the records to learn why.

“I will continue to ask for the full negotiation records so I can determine what this country has agreed to when it comes to missile defense,” DeMint said.

Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of State for verification, compliance and implementation, told the panel, “The treaty does not constrain our current or planned missile defenses, and, in fact, contains no meaningful restrictions on missile defenses of any kind.” She also said, “Let me state unequivocally today on the record before this committee that there were no — I repeat, no — backroom deals made in connection with the new START treaty, not on missile defense or any other issue.”

DeMint said negotiation records have been made available to Congress before, dating back to the presidency of George Washington. But Gottemoeller said it is unusual, noting that none of the treaties ratified by the 110th Congress were submitted to Capitol Hill with any of the administration’s negotiation records.

Ted KAUFMAN, D-Del., said that according to committee records, the Foreign Relations panel concluded after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in 1988 that reviewing negotiation records should not be “institutionalized,” because it could “inhibit candor” and “weaken the treaty-making process.”

The hearing was the first of three scheduled for this week to evaluate the START agreement. A second Foreign Relations hearing on Wednesday will feature Defense Department witnesses and is expected delve into the administration’s plan for modernizing the nuclear arsenal, another point of contention for skeptical Republicans.

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