A second leading Republican is opposing Senate ratification of the New START treaty based on classified intelligence that the arms pact cannot be verified and that Moscow is manipulating the treaty to prevent the U.S. from expanding missile defenses.
“New START suffers from fundamental flaws that no amount of tinkering around the edges can fix. I believe the better course for our nation, and for global stability, is to put this treaty aside and replace it with a better one,” Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, said in a little-noticed floor statement last week.
Mr. Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he outlined the problems with the treaty in a classified letter to senators and then presented several comments based on the secret intelligence explaining why, as he put it, “I cannot in good conscience support this treaty.”
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, earlier called for debate on ratification to be put off during the lame-duck session of the Senate because he had concerns about U.S. nuclear modernization and treaty constraints on missile defense and conventional long-range strike weapons.
Mr. Obama said over the weekend that treaty ratification is vital to national security because no U.S. officials have been able to inspect Russian missile sites since Dec. 5, when the old START expired.
After the treaty expired, Russia and the U.S. promised not to undermine the “strategic stability” provided by the old treaty. Nonetheless, both sides failed to sign an agreement extending the inspections past the expiration date.
Mr. Bond said the new treaty is considerably weaker than the one it replaces and does not allow for verification by inspectors and spy satellites.
Key intelligence assessments and testimony from analysts on the U.S. ability to monitor compliance with the treaty has left “no doubt in my mind that the United States cannot reliably verify the treaty’s 1,550 limit on deployed warheads,” Mr. Bond said.
For example, the 10 annual warhead inspections in Russia will limit checks to 2 percent to 3 percent of the Russian strategic forces, he said.
Additionally, all missiles can be armed with unlimited numbers of warheads. “So even if the Russians fully cooperated in every inspection, these inspections cannot provide conclusive evidence of whether the Russians are complying with the warhead limit,” he said.
Also, the treaty provides no limits on the number of warheads Russia can place on a missile it is testing. “The Russians could deploy a missile with only one warhead, but legally flight-test it with six warheads to gain confidence in the increased capability — a practice they could not employ under the original START,” Mr. Bond said.
The extra five warheads then could be legally stored nearby each missile for use on short notice, all within treaty limits, he said.
Another flaw is the treaty does not limit the number of non-deployed missiles and spare warheads the Russians may store.
“This potential for Russia to ‘break out’ of the treaty in a short period of time — perhaps without adequate warning to the United States — may undermine the very nuclear stability this administration claims this treaty provides,” Mr. Bond said.View Entire Story
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