Passing the Treaty: OpEds and Widgets

 In Accomplishments, Nuclear Weapons, Stupid Things People Say

National security experts have been taking to the nation’s newspapers to convince recalcitrant Republicans to get on board with the New START Treaty.  In an effort to turn up the heat on Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, we helped place this OpEd in the Arizona Republic, the state’s most-read newspaper. The author, Brigadier General John Adams (ret), is part of the Consensus for American Security, a non-partisan group that has brought foreign policy experts and former military leaders together to “promote sound and informed discourse about national security” and has joined the network of groups working together to pass New START.

As a military leader and an Arizona resident, General Adams speaks to Senator Kyl’s obstruction of the treaty:

In short, there is an overwhelming consensus among the military and national security establishment in support of the treaty. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has raised a number of questions about the treaty, and over the course of 21 Senate hearings and briefings over the last five months, those questions have been addressed.

His primary concern appears not to be with the treaty, which he called “benign,” but rather with the separate question of whether there is enough funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the years ahead. He claims there may be cost overruns in future years for some projects and has threatened to hold up a vote on the treaty unless he is satisfied.

On the substance, Sen. Kyl’s call for even more funding runs counter to the thinking of our military leadership and those in charge of our nuclear weapons. The U.S. secretary of Defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, STRATCOM commander and NNSA director have all said the administration’s proposed $80 billion plan for modernization of the nuclear-weapons infrastructure over the next decade – a significant, 10 percent increase over current levels – is more than adequate. Substance notwithstanding, the treaty should not be held hostage over this unrelated matter.

Gen. Adams then refers to a quote from Kyl in yet another article in the Washington Post last month that reported on the expiration of the important US-Russian nuclear inspections system.

In months of debate over New START, there has been little focus on the implications of the lapse in nuclear checks. Instead, hearings have centered on such issues as whether the pact would inhibit U.S. missile defense.

“I thought we were just going to continue doing business as usual” as the replacement treaty was debated, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said when a reporter noted the inspection cutoff.

It’s unbelievable to me that Kyl, a supposed expert on nuclear issues, could completely space on such a crucial point. Our inspectors are not in Russia, and can’t return until the treaty is ratified.

But, apparently, Kyl just wasn’t aware that stopping this treaty would have such drastic and immediate consequences. Now that the General has so kindly brought it to his attention, hopefully he will do the right thing and stop his obstruction of the New START Treaty.

On a related note, our colleagues at Ploughshares Fund created this nifty, dramatic widget to post on websites and blogs. The counter shows the time since START I expired, and US inspectors lost access to Russian nuclear arsenals. Because we need Republican Senate votes to ratify this treaty, this message is a direct hit, emphasizing that we shouldn’t let political games stand in the way of closing this gap on national security.

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