Casey, Kaufman, Franken Speak on Nuclear Security and START Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Al Franken (D-MN) took to the Senate floor to discuss nuclear security and to urge the adoption of a new START agreement.

“Without a clear commitment to our nonproliferation responsibilities through a new START agreement, it will be increasingly difficult for the U.S. to secure international support in addressing the urgent security threats posed by the spread of nuclear weapons,” said Senator Casey.  “This treaty would reduce deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russia and would provide crucial verification measures that would allow a window into the Russian nuclear program.”

“The Senate should take action on a START follow-on treaty as soon as possible in order to keep Americans safe and protect global security,” Senator Kaufman said in his remarks.  “And for anyone who has doubts, rest assured that the President and his negotiating team are working hard to finalize a treaty that – first and foremost – advances U.S. security interests.”

“I am confident the successor to START will be equally historic,” said Senator Franken.  “The world has changed, and this will be a new treaty for a new world with a new set of nuclear challenges. But the bottom line for the new treaty remains the same as it was for the original START: The treaty must--and it will--advance our national security interests.”

The Administration is in the final stages of negotiating the START treaty with Russia.   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently in Russia where START is expected to be on the agenda.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden in a speech at the National Defense University discussed the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect our country from nuclear threats.   These efforts include negotiating and ratifying a new START treaty with Russia to reduce deployed nuclear weapons, increasing funding to safely maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and confronting the challenges of rogue states and terrorists seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

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Remarks of U.S. Senator Bob Casey
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on
Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs

Almost two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia maintain more than 90 percent of the world’s total stockpile of 23,000 nuclear weapons.  Each of these weapons has the capacity to destroy a city, and a large-scale nuclear exchange could extinguish most life on this planet.  As you are aware, massive numbers of nuclear weapons increase the risk of catastrophic accidents, errors or unauthorized use. 

There is a serious imperative in the U.S. to address this issue.  The Administration has rightly focused on nuclear nonproliferation as a top priority.  In his Prague speech, the President said that “As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.”

The first test of that commitment is the new START agreement.

In October, Secretary Clinton said, “the United States is interested in a new START agreement because it will bolster our national security.  We and Russia deploy far more nuclear weapons than we need or could ever potentially use without destroying our ways of life.  We can reduce our stockpiles of nuclear weapons without posing any risk to our homeland, our deployed troops or our allies.  Clinging to nuclear weapons in excess of our security needs does not make the United States safer.  And the nuclear status quo is neither desirable nor sustainable.  It gives other countries the motivation or the excuse to pursue their own nuclear options.” 

Secretary Clinton is in Moscow now and I hope that we will be able to make progress on the START treaty during her visit. 

This treaty would reduce deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russia and would provide crucial verification measures that would allow a window into the Russian nuclear program. While this treaty has taken a little longer than expected to complete, I applaud the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller and her efforts to pursue a strong agreement as opposed to a immediate agreement.  A new START agreement is in our national security interests, especially in terms of maintaining verification and transparency measures.   Once complete, this agreement could help to strengthen the U.S.-Russia relationship and potentially increases the possibility of Russian cooperation on an array of thorny international issues including North Korea and Iran. 

The START follow-on treaty is a clear demonstration that the United States is upholding our disarmament obligations under the NPT.  START is a necessary step in reaffirming U.S. leadership on nonproliferation issues.  Without a clear commitment to our nonproliferation responsibilities through a new START agreement, it will be increasingly difficult for the U.S. to secure international support in addressing the urgent security threats posed by the spread of nuclear weapons.

International agreements to limit nuclear weapons have drawn upon a deep well of bi-partisan support over the years.  There is no reason why this START agreement should be different.  We may have our differences on elements of the treaty when it is presented before the Senate for ratification.  But I hope that we will be able to come together in common cause in the recognition that these agreements are in our national security interest because they ultimately decrease the likelihood of accidental launch and decrease the likelihood of terrorist access to nuclear materials.  There will be deliberation.  There will be debate.  But I am confident that at the end of the process, we will have a strong agreement that, in the proud tradition of the Senate, will garner bi-partisan support. 

Senator Ted Kaufman
Remarks Supporting the Follow-on Treaty to START

Mr. President, I join my friends Senators Casey and Franken today to underscore the importance of reducing our nuclear arms.  I have spoken in the past about the importance of signing a successor treaty to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, in order to maintain important verification and other confidence-building measures.   I have also spoken in support of the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 spending priorities, which include a program to modernize and secure our nuclear arsenal.

Today, I would like to go back to basics when talking about arms reduction, because it is easy to get lost in the details and misconceptions, and forget the big picture.  First, we must remember what is at stake when it comes to our nuclear arms reduction policy.  We cannot afford to lose sight of why is it so important to get a successor to START, why it must be the right successor, and why the Senate should take action on the treaty in the near term.

This treaty was signed with the Soviet Union at a time when we still had fallout shelters to prepare for nuclear war.  Almost two decades later, a nuclear attack is more likely to originate from rogue regimes or non-state actors, but it is still critical that we not take our eye off the ball when it comes to existing nuclear stockpiles. 

American and Russian nuclear weapons alone account for almost 96% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, and stockpile reduction remains a significant challenge in easing residual tensions of the Cold War.  The accumulation of nuclear serves as a reminder of the animosity that existed between our countries, much of which has now been relegated to the pages of history.  Our nuclear stockpiles reflect realities of the past, not the economic and security considerations of the present and future.

START is symbolically significant because it serves as the cornerstone of the world’s non-proliferation efforts and sets tough international standards.  With no arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia, we hand cynics and opportunists around the globe a pretext for derailing non-proliferation efforts.

Now that START has expired, we need a follow-on treaty because security needs have changed since the Cold War.  This is why we must ensure that we end up with the right treaty, not just one that renews now-outdated provisions of START.  It is important that a new treaty both adapts to the needs of the world today and presents a clear vision for a more secure future.

It is expected that Americans and Russians have different ideas of this vision and how we can get there.  Both countries have domestic political considerations which also complicate matters. 

Throughout this process, I have been thoroughly impressed with Ambassador Rose Gottemoeller and her negotiating team, which have consistently maintained their focus and core principles.  The Obama administration wants the right treaty, not just any treaty, and future generations will likely benefit from its steadfast dedication and resolve.

Finally, we must consider the parameters of the treaty we hope to achieve.  By definition, a lasting treaty cannot be drawn unilaterally, so it must be something mutually acceptable to both the United States and Russia. 

At the same time, there are some important red lines which must be reflected in the final treaty, from the perspective of the United States.  First, it must have an intrusive verification system in order to maintain confidence and avoid catastrophic misunderstandings between the two sides.  Second, it must reduce ready-to-go strategic arsenals in a meaningful way, which means addressing upload capability. Third, it must allow modernization of our existing nuclear capabilities to enhance national and international security.  And fourth, it must remain a strategic offensive treaty, with an intentionally narrow scope.  We should not include any other types of weapons systems, including anti-ballistic missile systems, under its regulatory umbrella.

Mr. President, the Senate should take action on a START follow-on treaty as soon as possible in order to keep Americans safe and protect global security.  And for anyone who has doubts, rest assured that the President and his negotiating team are working hard to finalize a treaty that – first and foremost – advances U.S. security interests.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue because the responsible reduction of nuclear stockpiles is one of the most important measures we can take to improve global security for future generations.  Thank you.

Senator Al Franken
Franken Praises New START Treaty
on Senate Floor

START FOLLOW-ON TREATY

Sen. AL. FRANKEN. Madam President, I rise today to speak about arms control and the President's negotiations with Russia over a replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START. This new treaty will be an important enhancement to American national security, and I look forward to considering it on the Senate floor once it has been signed.
   
As you may recall, the original START treaty was ratified by the Senate in 1992 by a bipartisan vote of 93 to 6. It went into force in late 1994, with a predetermined life of 15 years, causing it to expire this past December.

Soon after taking office, the Obama administration began careful and diligent work to negotiate a successor treaty with Russia. As START was expiring in early December,

President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia issued a joint statement making clear that our two countries would effectively abide by the expiring treaty until the new one comes into force.
 
I think we can all agree that the original START was a landmark achievement. It brought about historic reductions in nuclear weapons. Its verification measures and the communication between the United States and Russia that they fostered served to build confidence between the two countries at an uncertain moment. It helped our nations to move toward a post-Cold-War mentality, providing strategic stability between the world's two greatest nuclear powers.

I am confident the successor to START will be equally historic. The world has changed, and this will be a new treaty for a new world with a new set of nuclear challenges. But the bottom line for the new treaty remains the same as it was for the original START: The treaty must--and it will--advance our national security interests.

When the new treaty is signed and presented to the Senate, there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss and debate in detail the specific numerical limitations on strategic offensive arms. President Obama and President Medvedev determined these would be in the range of 500 to 1,100 for strategic delivery vehicles, and in the range of 1,500 to 1,675 for their associated warheads. Likewise, we will carefully examine the counting rules for those limitations, the monitoring and verification measures for implementing the agreement, and all its other provisions.

I look forward to discussing all these specific matters when the Senate fulfills our responsibility to offer our advice and, as appropriate, our consent. But the core reasons this treaty will make us safer are already clear.

The verifiable reduction of nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia will provide us with strategic stability and mutual confidence. In other words, it ensures transparency and predictability between the two countries that possess 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

The new treaty will do this while streamlining the elaborate and, in some cases, outdated and unnecessarily burdensome verification measures from the original treaty. The new treaty will also reduce the risk of nuclear theft or loss from our countries, and we know just how important this last point is in a world where terrorist groups would give anything to obtain a nuclear weapon.

This new treaty will also allow us to lead by example in arms reduction, and this will in turn greatly aid our vital nonproliferation efforts. Indeed, while the arms reductions in the treaty will be relatively modest, entering into the treaty will be a significant step in the renewal of our arms control and nonproliferation agenda for the 21st century. It will put us on firmer ground as we confront the dangers of nuclear weapons in this new world.

I want to dwell briefly on this last point. The centerpiece of the global nonproliferation framework is aptly named the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This treaty requires that states without nuclear weapons pledge not to acquire them. But it also imposes a responsibility on nuclear states which must pursue reductions in weapons.

When we fulfill that responsibility, it strengthens the global nonproliferation framework that centers on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It strengthens our hand in dealing with nonnuclear states, whether they are allies pursuing civilian nuclear power or adversaries with unclear nuclear intentions.

The point is not that untrustworthy adversaries will suddenly be transparent about their intentions or fulfill their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rather, we can negotiate with and pressure adversaries more effectively when we are meeting our own responsibilities. Likewise, we can work more effectively with our friends--and rely on them for multilateral support--when we ourselves lead by example. In other words, arms control agreements like the new START follow-on treaty are themselves powerful tools in our nonproliferation efforts.

The START follow-on treaty is only one element of President Obama's ambitious nonproliferation and arms control agenda to reduce and ultimately eliminate the threat from nuclear weapons. But until we are able to realize this end goal, it remains important to maintain an effective deterrent. This treaty will in no way--in no way--take away that deterrent.

Likewise, it is critical for us to support the administration's increased budget request for ensuring the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile and the complex and experts who maintain it. Such a commitment to a safe and reliable nuclear arsenal goes hand in hand with minimizing the danger from nuclear weapons through arms control and nonproliferation. We must pursue the limitation of nuclear weapons while maintaining an effective deterrent. And that is just what the START follow-on treaty will do. It will make us safer without jeopardizing our effective deterrent.

I look forward to a robust discussion and ultimately, I hope, to bipartisan consent to the resolution of ratification.