Yet another highly respected national security figure has called on the Senate to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Speaking yesterday, Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, who is the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and who was director for nuclear policy and arms control for two years at the National Security Council, announced his support for the New START Treaty, saying, "My sense is that the START Treaty ought to be ratified and ought to be ratified as soon as possible." Lt. Gen. Klotz joins a long line of distinguished military and national security leaders from both sides of the aisle who have endorsed ratification of New START.
The endorsement from Lt. Gen. Klotz comes as a few fringe conservatives ramp up their opposition to New START. The Bush administration's never-confirmed U.S. ambassador to UN, John Bolton, and John Yoo, the legal father of torture, penned an erratic op-ed in yesterday's New York Times that only serves to highlight the credibility problem facing the right: Why should Americans trust discredited politicos more than men and women with decades of experience defending our country?
Last weekend a computer glitch at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming caused a temporary communication disruption with 50 of our nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).With the investigation of the command and control system well under way, Air Force Vice-Chief Gen. Carrol “Howie” Chandler said yesterday that, “The safety of the weapon system was never in doubt.”Gen. Chandler further stressed that the incident does not signal “a degradation of the system.”With 1,968 strategic operational warheads in our arsenal, the computer glitch disrupted communication with about 3% of our operational nuclear force for approximately 45 minutes. This isolated event deserves careful scrutiny, but at no time was the credibility of our nation’s deterrent undermined.
Unfortunately, certain politicians have politicized this glitch by attempting to use it to justify their opposition to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).New START has the “unanimous support of America's military leadership” and the Senate will likely consider it when it returns to work after the elections.This important treaty has deep support from military and national security leaders from both sides of the aisle, and the computer glitch at F.E. Warren in no way compromised that support.New START remains an urgent national security priority as it provides for strategic stability between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.Quick ratification of this treaty will allow U.S. inspectors to once again monitor and inspect Russia’s nuclear arsenal, thereby strengthening American national security.
With just over a month until the mid-term elections, partisanship has flatlined Congress, forcing Members to pass a stopgap spending measure to keep our government running. With a significant number of legislative priorities requiring attention during the lame duck session, one of the most urgent items Congress should take up is the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). New START is not only a priority for our national security, but it also enjoys broad, bipartisan support - a rarity in today's partisan climate. The Senate has a history of approving strategic arms control agreements on a strong, bipartisan basis. In fact, 18 years ago tomorrow, the Senate passed the original START agreement on a 93-6 vote. The New START accord is squarely in line with its predecessor, giving today's conservatives a chance to continue the legacy of Ronald Reagan by reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. There is bipartisan momentum to approve this treaty, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently voting 14-4 in favor of New START. However, a small minority of extreme conservatives, led by figures such as Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), could stand in the way, forcing Senators to make a choice: make America safer or side with the fringe.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee took an important step today in ensuring the security of the American people by approving the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and sending a resolution of advice and consent to the full Senate. After a bitterly divided and partisan summer, Senators rose above the bickering and showed commitment to a core U.S. national security priority - reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons. New START has overwhelming support from our nation's most respected military and national security leaders, who all agree that the Senate must act quickly to reinstate the monitoring and verification provisions that have kept our country safe for so many years. As Connect U.S. Fund president and former UN Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg announced, "Today's vote is an important step forward in making us all safer. It's a smart vote in our national security interest. I urge the full Senate to ratify it as soon as possible."
The Senate returns to Washington this week with an important opportunity to demonstrate seriousness about U.S. national security by supporting the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the Foreign Relations Committee this Thursday.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote on the treaty in mid-September after Senators return from August recess. The case for ratification is clear. After months of hearings, Senators have meticulously reviewed the treaty and its accompanying documents. An impressive record of bipartisan support has been built by Sens. Kerry (D-MA) and Lugar (R-IN), who have worked with their colleagues on the Committee and elsewhere to answer questions and facilitate the passage of this important treaty. As the debate comes to a close, a number of key Senators have indicated that they hope to support New START, pending the resolution of specific questions. These questions do not pertain to New START, and instead focus on issues such as funding for our nuclear weapons complex, an issue to which the administration has been fully committed. While Senators will have the next six weeks to review the advice of our nation's most respected national security experts, the lack of insight into Russia's nuclear program remains a concern, and only ratification of the treaty will address this. When Senators return in September and the process moves forward, Senators must therefore move rapidly to ratify the New START agreement. As Sen. Lugar explained yesterday, it is "no longer a matter of parliamentary debate, it's a matter of national security."
As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moves closer to a vote on the New START accord, another distinguished group of national security officials joined the chorus of support for the New START Treaty. Seven former Commanders of the United States Strategic Command sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee today, saying, "We strongly endorse its early ratification and entry into force." As the men who were responsible for America's strategic nuclear forces, their support is pivotal.