Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman's Opening Statement from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on "The New START Treaty: The Negotiations"

June 15, 2010

This afternoon, the Foreign Relations Committee meets to consider the New Strategic Arms Reduction, or START, Treaty.  This is the eighth time we have met to discuss this topic since the treaty’s signing, including classified meetings.  We have heard from the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  We have also heard from former Secretaries of State and Defense, former National Security Advisors, and others, all of whom have voiced their support for ratification of the treaty. 

This is a good treaty.  From the historical perspective, it is another step contributing to our decades-long process of responsible, safe, and secure nuclear arms reduction.   First, it gives our military enough warheads and means to deliver them to meet our current and future defense requirements.  Second, it in no way limits U.S. missile defense strategy.  We intend to deploy a missile defense system that will protect the United States, Europe, and Russia, from attacks from rogue states, and our strategic relationship with Russia will continue to rely on the deterrence theory that has kept us safe for a half-century.

I want to repeat – missile defense is not part of New START because President Medvedev and President Obama agreed in April 2009 that missile defense would not be part of a START follow-on treaty.  This was reiterated in the July 2009 U.S.-Russian Joint State, and  by every witness who has come before this Committee.  As the lead negotiators of the treaty, I look forward to hearing our witnesses’ perspective on this issue.   

Third, the treaty contains an important clause that will allow us to withdraw at any time, in accordance with changing calculations pertaining to national and global security.  Such language is boilerplate in international arms reduction treaties and was included in START I, START II, and the Moscow Treaty.  It allows us to put the interests of the American people first, and it is a military priority.  

Finally, the treaty provides long-needed verification standards, which represent a significant improvement over the old START treaty.  This is possibly the most important portion of the treaty, because the required notifications and inspections, combined with the work of our intelligence community, give us the confidence to reduce the number of deployed warheads.  The new verification system allows for more detailed inspections, for the first time allowing U.S. inspectors to open a Russian missile and view nuclear warheads.  When the Senate first began considering nuclear arms reduction between the United States and the Soviet Union, I could have never imagined a time when Americans and Russians would have agreed to such access and transparency.

Another element of the treaty which strengthens our verification abilities are the unique identifiers on every missile from its moment of creation to its moment of destruction.  Combined with notifications and national technical means, this gives us an unprecedented ability to understand the Russian strategic force.  Additionally, it enhances our ability to identify cheating.

These verification measures are of particular importance and urgency.  The original START verification provisions expired with that treaty seven months ago, leaving us with the bare minimum of notifications for New START to which both sides provisionally agreed.  If the treaty is rejected by the Senate, however, these provisional notifications will become null and void.  As we speak, the U.S. military and strategic decision-makers know less about the Russian strategic force than they did in December because of the expiration of the first START Treaty.  It is in our short and long-term strategic interest to restore inspections and notifications, and strengthen our verification regime.  

In closing, I welcome our distinguished witnesses.  Rose Gottemoeller is Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance and the chief negotiator of the treaty.  Ted Warner is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and was the representative of the Department of Defense to negotiations.  Together, they are uniquely qualified to answer questions about what was included in negotiations and what was not, which will constitute an important part of our record here today.  This is the second time they have testified before the Committee, the first being a classified hearing last week.  It is a testament to the importance of their perspective that we have brought them back to continue the conversation for the record today.

There is an old expression that when a shark stops swimming, it drowns, and I think that perfectly summarizes where we stand with regard to arms control.  Some witnesses who have testified have whole-heartedly supported this treaty, and some have voiced specific areas of concern, but each has insisted that non-ratification would be a set-back for global security. 

In the words of Lt. General Brent Scowcroft “the principal result of non-ratification would be to throw the whole nuclear negotiating situation into a state of chaos.”  The decades of cooperative limits and reductions provided by SALT, and subsequently by the robust verification systems in the first START treaty, provided the United States and Russia with the confidence needed to reduce nuclear weapons, because both sides knew it was in their national interest.  Failure to ratify this essential follow-on treaty would represent an unraveling of past cooperation between the United States and Russia on arms reduction, and pose a significant set-back for nuclear security.

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