Casey Applauds Ratification of New START Treaty

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) applauded today’s vote in the United States Senate to ratify the New START Accord.  

“A world with New START is one in which fewer nuclear missiles are pointed at Americans,” Senator Casey said.  “A world with New START is one in which U.S. nuclear inspectors can return to Russia.  This agreement is in the vital national security interests of our country and we will be safer as a result. Ratification of this treaty is not a political victory for one party or another.  It is a national security victory for our great nation.”

Senator Casey continued, “The New START is a clear demonstration that the United States is upholding our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which can in turn help to secure support from other countries in confronting the threat posed by nuclear terrorism.”  

Full text of the speech Senator Casey gave on the Senate floor prior to ratification is below.

A World without New START
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
December 22, 2010

Mr President, I rise to outline what is at stake in this debate and describe what the world would look like without the New START accord.  

Every Senator took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

First Mr President, a world without New START is one in which more nuclear missiles are pointed at Americans.  And when posed with the choice of fewer nuclear weapons pointed at them, I think it’s clear where the American people stand.

A world without New START is one in which we have no nuclear inspectors on the ground in Russia.  These inspectors have more than a decade of experience inspecting Russian nuclear sites.  They were involved in the negotiation process to ensure that there are strong inspection provisions in the treaty.  Without New START these inspectors would not be able to return to work.  Furthermore, without on-site inspections, our intelligence services will still be required to collect information on Russia’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.  On December 20th, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote and I quote: “An extended delay in ratification may eventually force an inordinate and unwise shift in scarce resources from other high priority requirements to maintain adequate awareness of Russian nuclear forces.”   Mr. President, in a world without New START, our intelligence capabilities will be stretched which could give the enemies of our troops on the ground an advantage.  

These are just some of the direct effects.  What are some of the potential peripheral effects of a world without New START?  The cascade effect on U.S national security interests without New START is substantial.

A world without New START is one in which the Russians are less likely to provide land and air access to supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Northern Distribution Network is a crucial supply line for our troops in Afghanistan. This means that as we have reached full troop strength in Afghanistan, supply lanes will become increasingly strained. Today, supply routes through Pakistan are increasingly dangerous.  In fact, just yesterday Mr. President two fuel tankers meant to supply our troops in Afghanistan were attacked and the drivers killed in Pakistan.  This is one of the reasons why the leadership of our uniformed military want New START ratified.

A world without New START is one in which there is more Russian fissile material in existence, material which could be stolen for use in a terrorist attack.  There is a reason why top U.S. counterterrorism officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency want New START ratified.

A world without New START is one in which Russia’s government is perhaps less likely to help stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.   A world without New START is one in which Iran is perhaps given access to Russian S-300 missiles, a weapon capable of reaching Israel.  That is one reason why the Anti-Defamation League, B’Nai Brith, the American Jewish Committee and other prominent pro-Israel groups want New START ratified.

In a world without New START, there is no way that Russia will agree to decrease their tactical nuclear weapons.  Our friends in Eastern Europe and those across the continent will be less secure in the knowledge that the threats to their security are not diminishing, but could in fact be growing.  There is a reason why 25 European foreign ministers want New START ratified.

A world without New START is one in which the 1970 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the cornerstone of preventing new nuclear weapons states, is severely threatened.  

What does this mean in practical terms?  The New START is a clear demonstration that the United States is upholding our obligations under the NPT, which can in turn help to secure support from other countries for a strong arms control regime and assistance on other non-proliferation issues.  

Many countries see nuclear terrorism as a problem for the U.S. and the west. In a world without New START, these countries would seriously question our commitment to the NPT. Without New START, government officials around the world will question the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation. They will ask, if the U.S. is not seriously committed to arms control and nonproliferation, why should we?  

A world without New START contains many hard realities for the United States.  Ratification of this treaty is not a political victory for one party or another.  It is a national security victory for our great nation --  from our nuclear security, to the security of our troops in Afghanistan to the security of our ally Israel.

A world without New START is one in which the enemies of America would breathe a little easier.  
Strained U.S. supply lines make life easier for the Taliban.  

Fewer available intelligence capabilities would make life easier for al Qaeda elements living in Pakistan’s tribal areas.  

A strained U.S.-Russian relationship makes life easier for the government in Iran.  

A world without New START makes life easier for terrorists trafficking in fissile material to travel across borders.  

A world without New START means no negotiations on decreasing Russian tactical nuclear weapons.  
Mr President, the world described above, a world without New START is not the world we have to accept.  We must to give the American people some peace of mind as to our national security.  A world with New START.  

We must ratify this treaty, and diminish the number of nuclear missiles pointed at the United States today.

We must deploy nuclear inspectors to Russia, thus returning stability and transparency to our nuclear relationship and taking undue burden off of our intelligence agencies.  

A world with New START means a more constructive relationship with Russia, which is good for our troops in Afghanistan and bad for the regime in Iran.  

A world with New START means the beginning of a conversation with the Russians on tactical nuclear weapons.   

A world with New START is one in which there is less fissile material for terrorists to steal or buy on the black market.  

A world with New START means increased cooperation with countries in combating nuclear terrorism.

The most serious threat to U.S. national security is the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists.

In 1961 at the United Nations, President Kennedy said and I quote, "Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness."

Some have observed that in this era of increased terrorism, we are actually more vulnerable today to a nuclear terrorist attack than we were during the Cold War. Today's sword of Damocles still hangs by the slenderest of threads but we have the ability to prevent this threat by minimizing the access that terrorists would have to nuclear material.

President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit earlier this year was an historic event. It helped to create a foundation upon which other countries will take up the challenge of nuclear security, and cooperate with the United States to accomplish the President’s goal of securing fissile material in four years.

We cannot do this alone.  In order to confront this most serious threat to U.S. national security, we need to build stronger ties with our allies around the world.  And part of building that trust is rebuilding our own credibility on nonproliferation issues.  This New START agreement is a very positive step in that direction.  It is an essential predicate for fulfilling our commitments under the nonproliferation treaty, a key marker for many potential allies on a range of nuclear security issues.  Upon ratification of New START, we must make progress on securing fissile material around the world.

This is a strong resolution of ratification.  It passed out of our committee with a bi-partisan vote of 14-4.  It includes strong language on missile defense, verification and tactical weapons.  It includes an important amendment on missile defense adopted on the floor with strong bi-partisan support.

Finally, Mr President, the American people are watching.  According to a November 2010 CNN poll, 73 percent of Americans support ratification of this treaty. They understand the implications of a world without New START.  

In a hurricane of partisan rancor and political battles, the national security consensus is as strong as an oak tree in support of New START:  all six living former secretaries of state, five former secretaries of defense, three former National Security Advisors, seven former commanders of U.S. Strategic Command, the entire joint chiefs of staff, our intelligence services, the president and three former presidents.  The American people have a right to expect ratification of New START.  They want New START and should hold us accountable if we do not deliver.  We have considerable power and responsibility with this vote.  Let’s vote for New START's resolution of ratification and cast a strong bipartisan vote in favor of our national security.


                                                                        
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