Richard V. “Dick” Allen, who as national security adviser to the president in the early 1980s helped Ronald Reagan finalize landmark arms control agreements with the Soviet Union that eventually triggered the end of the Cold War, has some advice for President Obama on his efforts this month to arrest the spread of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obama’s “goals are laudable,” Mr. Allen told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio talk show on Monday. “It is an ideal goal that has to be enforceable.”
Last week in Prague, Mr. Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a treaty that will replace the Reagan-era Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. This week, Mr. Obama is hosting leaders from 46 countries in a Washington summit on the security of nuclear weapons and materials.
Mr. Allen said it would be a “far stretch of the imagination” to compare Reagan’s first year in office to that of Mr. Obama’s. He said Reagan “put in place a broad new defense modernization strategy with a lot of future weapons, and we are still living in the legacy of that strategy.”
Reagan, “despite his apparent loath to weapons, basically armed in order to disarm,” Mr. Allen said. “Some called him an almost dangerous disarmer.”
Mr. Allen, who was involved in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, or SALT, said mere limitation as a goal was then seen as “immoral” and suggested changing it to reduction, and Reagan accepted the change from SALT to START.
Speaking from New Zealand, when he spends four months of the year growing grapes and lecturing at universities, Mr. Allen said the United States will have to “maintain a ready arsenal across the board until such time the treaty can be verified.”
In this respect, he said, it would be naive to expect the Senate to approve the new treaty quickly.
The New START treaty, which will cut nuclear weapons by about one-third, will have to be ratified by 67 votes in the Senate. The Democrats lack the votes, and at least two senior senators, including Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, have criticized the agreement for its curbs on warhead testings.
Anyone who thinks the treaty will be passed easily by the Senate “is smoking a little cigarette without the writing on them,” Mr. Allen said.