Casey Chairs Foreign Relations Committee Hearing: The New START Treaty Implementation: Inspections and Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today chaired a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reviewing the role of inspections in the verification regime of the START treaty.  

Witnesses at the hearing included the Honorable James N. Miller, Jr., Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense and Kenneth A. Myers III, Director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Senator Casey’s opening statement is below.



The New START Treaty Implementation: Inspections and Assistance

June 24, 2010

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets today to review the role of inspections in the verification regime of the START treaty.  

First we need to start with a threshold question on this treaty – how does it contribute to U.S. security?  

First, the agreement provides for predictability, transparency and stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship.  Former National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Ambassador Linton Brooks put it best when he said and I quote that “Transparency leads to predictability; predictability leads to stability.”  The opportunity to examine Russian nuclear forces will help limit the surprises, mistrust or miscalculation that could result from a lack of information.  

To underscore this point, I would like to draw attention to an ad released today by the Partnership for a Secure America in support of the New START treaty.  Signed by a bi-partisan list of luminaries including George Shultz, Lee Hamilton, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright this group clearly declares that the New START treaty does not limit missile defense, nor does it inhibit our ability to maintain an effective and reliable arsenal. Moreover, the group states that the verification and inspection measures are essential to U.S. national security and nuclear threat reduction as it relates to Russian strategic nuclear weapons.  We thank them for their continued service and contribution to this important debate.  

The existence of the START treaty, and in particular the framework of an inspection regime, has proven remarkably durable even during difficult times in the Russian-U.S. relationship.  For example, despite tensions over policy in the Balkans and the NATO campaign in Kosovo, our respective commitments to START have never been in question.  In an environment of instability in Afghanistan, and across the Middle East, stability in our relationship with Russia becomes even more important.  

In addition to the benefits of decreasing the number of nuclear weapons, the signing of this treaty has resulted in concrete benefits.  First, in deepening our relationship with the Russian Federation, we were able to secure support for sanctions on Iran at the United Nations.  Russia has also decided not to provide S300 missiles to Iran, even though sale of this weapon is not banned by the UN sanctions. Moreover, our current relations with Russia are stable, but if that were to change, the New START treaty would provide a ceiling of 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons in the Russian nuclear force in case it were to decide to chart a new strategic course.  

This treaty will have strategic benefits apart from arms control, but at a more fundamental level we meet here today to concretely discuss how this treaty will provide a valuable window into the Russian nuclear forces.  

Today, we look forward to hearing from our witnesses on whether they believe that the verification regime crafted under the New START Treaty fulfills the two main purposes of arms control verification regimes: 1) to provide a mechanism to increase confidence that all parties are abiding by the treaty, and 2) to provide early warning of any violation that can jeopardize our national security.  

Over the past two decades, both the American and the Russian inspections teams have implemented the original START Treaty. The New START Treaty was negotiated with this experience as a foundation and builds on its best practices.  

Some have asked whether we have lost any valuable elements of the original START agreement’s inspection regime.  Critics point out that under the original START Treaty, the United States was permitted 25 data update, reentry vehicles, and facility inspections a year, while under New START, the United States can only inspect 18 facilities annually.  However, in a previous hearing on START, Admiral Mullen noted that when START entered into force there were 55 Russian facilities subject to inspection, but that now there will only be 35 Russian facilities subject to inspection. Because the Russian strategic nuclear forces have contracted so much over the past fifteen years, we have certainly not lost anything in the number of inspections we carry-out per facility.   This does not take into account that some of the inspections under the New START Treaty allow us to do two inspections at once, unlike under the original START verification regime.   

I would assert that the inspections regime has also changed to reflect the current security environment, an enhanced relationship with the Russian Federation and because of more than a decade of experience in conducting inspections.  The inspection regime is simpler and cheaper than what was conducted under the first START treaty.  We conduct fewer inspections under this treaty because there are fewer sites to inspect.  We know what works and what doesn’t.  

As I mentioned, we have built a substantial track record of experience in conducting inspections and hosting Russian inspectors.  The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) trains, equips, organizes, deploys, and exercises operational control over inspection, monitoring, and escort teams.  

In addition to preparing for conducting on-site inspections of Russian facilities, the United States must be prepared to host on-site inspections under the New START Treaty without revealing sensitive military information.  I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how the New START treaty will affect their hosting of Russian inspectors at U.S. facilities.

We must also ask ourselves what we would lose should the New START agreement not be ratified.  As General Chilton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testified last week,
“The New START [treaty] will reestablish a strategic nuclear arms control verification regime that provides intrusive access to Russian nuclear forces and a measure of predictability in Russian force deployments over the life of the treaty.  Such access and predictability contribute to our ability to plan confidently our own force modernization efforts and our hedging strategy.”

General Chilton also noted that without this verification regime the ability to plan our own force structure would be far more difficult and costly, and would drive our strategists to always default to the worst-case scenario.  He said and I quote, “Without such a regime, we would be unfortunately be left to use worst-case analyses regarding our own force requirements.”

While Chairman Kerry and Senator Lugar have led an effort to thoroughly review the treaty, there remain key questions with regard to the inspections regime.  I hope that through the course of this hearing we will gain a better perspective on two particular issues:   
An instructive understanding of the actual inspections process and the mechanisms in place to address and resolve disputes or perceived inconsistencies with the agreement.

Thanks to the leadership of this committee’s ranking member, Senator Lugar, the U.S. has worked with Russia for almost 20 years to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and their associated delivery systems through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program.  This historic effort has bolstered U.S. nonproliferation efforts and, with the original START treaty as a foundation, was successful in the elimination of thousands of ICBMs, SLBMs, heavy bombers and air-to-surface missiles.  I look forward to hearing how the CTR program would complement the New START agreement.

Today we welcome back the Honorable James N. Miller, Jr., the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, who was before this Committee last week, and we give a warm welcome back to Kenneth A, Myers III, a former professional staff member on the committee and now the Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In his role as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Dr. Miller provides advice and assistance on matters concerning the formulation of national security and defense policy and the integration and oversight of DOD policy.  Dr. Miller provided the Committee with valuable insight last week and I look forward to the same again today.

Mr. Kenneth Myers is charge with integrating and synchronizing the Pentagon’s defense-wide efforts in support of combating the WMD threat.  In this role, I look to Mr. Myers to provide us a thorough examination of the connection between the New START Treaty and DTRA’s activities.