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Mr. Payne, director of the Virginia-based National Institute for Public Policy, also warned that the treaty’s limits and the Obama administration’s questionable support for modernizing and building strategic forces raise additional concerns.

Specifically, START constraints on U.S. missile defense options and conventional rapid global strike weapons are worrying, he said.

Mr. Payne stated that “reductions in the number and diversity of U.S. forces can matter greatly because the credibility of our forces is dependent on their flexibility to provide a spectrum of deterrent options and their resilience to adjust in a timely way to changes in the threat environment.”

Mr. Payne’s testimony had been blocked by the committee for weeks, and the panel relented after complaints by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who said in a statement that allowing 28 pro-treaty witnesses to testify and only two who are opposed “is just a little bit uneven.”

The second treaty opponent to testify was John S. Foster, former director of the Lawrence Livermore nuclear laboratory, who told the committee that verification procedures under the treaty would be “inadequate for the next 10 years, in part because New START’s provisions are significantly less demanding than START I, and if the Russian economy supports the programs they plan to deploy for their new triad, we will not have in place the monitoring capability that may be necessary.”

Mr. Inhofe said the treaty critics highlight the pact’s “lack of verification procedures, limitations on our missile defense system, and most importantly our nation’s ability to deter nuclear threats on both the United States and our allies.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, has scheduled a vote on the treaty for Tuesday, but the date may slip as Republicans still have not been given transcripts of the formal START negotiating history.

“This treaty is too important for the full Senate to consider with only a cursory view from those opposed to it,” Mr. Inhofe said. “Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to rush this treaty through the Senate. While committee hearings are ending, the fight over this treaty is just beginning.”

North Korea-al Qaeda link?

Tucked away among the 92,000 U.S. military intelligence reports on Afghanistan made public this week was a startling report on al Qaeda seeking weapons from North Korea.

The report stated that on Nov. 19, 2005, terrorist leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of the Hezb-Islami Party, traveled with Osama bin Laden’s “financial adviser,” identified in the report as Dr. Amin, and “both flew to North Korea” from Iran and returned to Helmand province in Afghanistan on Dec. 3, 2005.

“While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote-controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft,” the report said. “The deal was closed for an undetermined amount of money. The shipment of said weapons is expected shortly after the new year.”

The Bush administration in October 2008 removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in a concession designed to coax Pyongyang to nuclear concessions.

Imminent Fury update

The departure from Afghanistan of Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has thrown into question the general’s unanswered request to the Pentagon Joint Staff to speed up deployment of four new light attack aircraft code-named Imminent Fury.

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