Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman, on the Senate Floor, Discusses the START Treaty

March 18, 2010

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I am truly pleased to join with my friends, Senator Casey and Senator Franken, today to underscore the importance of reducing our nuclear arms.

   I have spoken in the past about the importance of signing a successor treaty to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START , in order to maintain verification and other confidence-building measures. I have also spoken in support of the President's fiscal year 2011 spending priorities, which include a program to modernize and secure our nuclear arsenal. Today, I wish to go back to the basics when talking about arms reduction because it is easy to get lost in the details and misconceptions and forget the big picture.

   First, we must remember what is at stake when it comes to our nuclear arms reduction policy. We cannot afford to lose sight of why it is so important to get a successor to START , why it must be the right successor, and why the Senate should take action on the treaty in the very near future.

   This treaty was signed by the Soviet Union at a time when we still had fallout shelters to prepare for nuclear war. Almost two decades later, a nuclear attack is more likely to originate from rogue regimes or nonstate actors, but it is still critical that we not take our eye off the ball when it comes to existing nuclear stockpiles.

   American and Russian nuclear weapons alone account for almost 96 percent of the world's nuclear arsenal, and stockpile reduction remains a significant challenge in easing residual tensions of the Cold War. The accumulation of nuclear serves as a reminder of the animosity that existed between our countries, much of which has now been relegated, thankfully, to the pages of history. Our nuclear stockpiles reflect the realities of the past, not the economic and security considerations of the present and the future.

   START is also symbolically significant because it serves as a cornerstone of the world's nonproliferation efforts and sets tough international standards. With no arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia, we hand cynics an opportunity around the globe a pretext for derailing nonproliferation efforts.

   Now that START has expired, we need a follow-on treaty because security efforts have changed since the Cold War. This is why we must ensure that we end up with the right treaty, not just one that renews now-outdated provisions of START . It is important that a new treaty both adapts to the needs of the world today and presents a clear vision for a more secure future.

   It is expected that Americans and Russians have different ideas of this vision and how we can get there. Both countries have domestic and political considerations which must also complicate matters. Throughout this process, I have been thoroughly impressed with Ambassador Rose Gottemoeller and her negotiating team, who have consistently maintained their focus and core principles.

   The Obama administration wants the right treaty, not just any treaty, and future generations will likely benefit from its steadfast dedication and resolve.

   Finally, we must consider the parameters of the treaty we hope to achieve. By definition, a lasting treaty cannot be drawn unilaterally, so it must be something mutually acceptable to both the United States and Russia. At the same time, there are some important red lines which must be reflected in the final treaty from the perspective of the United States:

   First, it must have an intrusive verification system in order to maintain confidence and avoid catastrophic misunderstandings between the two sides.

   Second, it must reduce ready-to-go strategic arsenals in a meaningful way, which means addressing upload capability.

   Third, it must allow modernization of our existing nuclear capabilities to enhance national and international security.

   Fourth, it must remain a strategic offensive treaty with an intentionally narrow scope. We should not include any other weapons systems, including antiballistic missile systems, under its regulatory umbrella.

   The Senate should take action on a START follow-on treaty as soon as possible in order to keep Americans safe and protect global security. For anyone who has doubts, rest assured that the President and his negotiating team are working hard to finalize a treaty that first and foremost must advance U.S. security interests.

   I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue because the responsible reduction of the nuclear stockpile is one of the most important measures we can take to improve global security for future generations.

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