Obama's START Secrets; Nuclear-Weapons Treaty Disarms Missile Defense, Not Terrorists

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 21, 2010 | Go to article overview

Obama's START Secrets; Nuclear-Weapons Treaty Disarms Missile Defense, Not Terrorists


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Obama administration is frantically trying to deliver a ratification win on the New START (or START II) nuclear arms treaty. The harder Democrats push the agreement, the more troubling questions arise.

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, It is time to move forward on a treaty that will help reverse nuclear proliferation and make it harder for terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear weapon. Rebranding START as a counterterrorism tool in this way is disingenuous. The treaty has nothing to do with terrorism, and the word doesn't appear anywhere in the text. The treaty limits strategic nuclear warheads, weapons that terrorists wouldn't be able to deploy even if they had them.

The only possible linkage to terrorism would be if the treaty limited the 2,000 to 6,000 Russian tactical battlefield nuclear warheads, which it doesn't. Likewise, START II will do nothing to address the threat of nuclear proliferation, which is centered on countries such as North Korea, Pakistan and Iran, none of which is a party to the agreement or even mentioned in it.

It's possible that U.S. and Russian negotiators took up these issues at some point during the process, but the Obama administration - in another violation of the president's promise of government transparency - has sealed the negotiation record. Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, brushed off calls for more openness, claiming her team already answered a thousand questions for the record, which purportedly should be enough. On Dec. 7, she said letting the Senate see what was discussed would have a chilling effect on future negotiations and overall have a deleterious effect on U.S. diplomacy. Mrs. Gottemoeller's comments defeat her purpose; if there is something that important in the record, then by all means the Senate must know what it is. …

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