Dec 16 2010
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, as chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I would like to address the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty--called New START--that is now before the Senate for ratification.
This treaty has been carefully vetted. I am confident the Senate will come to the conclusion that this treaty is in our national interest and will cast the necessary votes for ratification. I strongly support ratification.
Before speaking about intelligence issues related to this treaty, it is important to remind ourselves about the extraordinary, lethal nature of these nuclear weapons.
I was 12 years old when atomic bombs flattened both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Hiroshima bomb, estimated to have been 21 kilotons, killed 70,000 people outright. You can see from this chart the absolute devastation this bomb caused in Hiroshima. The Nagasaki bomb, at 15 kilotons--somewhat less--killed at least 40,000 people immediately. This is Nagasaki. Another 100,000 or so who survived the initial blasts died of injuries and radiation sickness. By the end of 1945, an estimated 220,000 people had lost their lives because of these two bombs.
The horrible images of disfigured bodies and devastating ruins have stayed with me all my life. I was part of the generation of youngsters being raised who hid under our desks in drills about atomic bombs and atomic weapons being unleashed.
So here is Nagasaki before the bomb, and here is Nagasaki after the bomb. It gives you a very good look at what it was like.
Today, we live in a world with far more nuclear weapons and even more powerful destructive capabilities. In May of this year, the Pentagon made a rare public announcement of the current U.S. nuclear stockpile--5,113 nuclear warheads, including deployed and nondeployed and not including warheads awaiting dismantlement. According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia's stockpile includes 4,650 deployed warheads--deployed warheads--both strategic and tactical. Including nondeployed warheads, the estimate of Russia's arsenal is 9,000 warheads, plus thousands more waiting to be dismantled.
Many--and here is the key--many of these weapons are far in excess of 100 kilotons or more than five times the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some are far, far larger. Many of these weapons are on high alert, ready to be launched at a moment's notice, and their use would result in unimaginable devastation.
So I ask my colleagues during this debate to reflect carefully on the extraordinary, lethal nature of these weapons as we consider this treaty.
This treaty is actually a modest step forward, not a giant one. It calls for cutting deployed strategic nuclear warheads by 30 percent below the levels established under the 2002 Moscow Treaty to 1,550 each. It cuts launch vehicles, such as missile silos and submarine tubes, to 800 for each country. Deployed launch vehicles are capped at 700--more than 50 percent below the original START treaty.
According to the unanimous views of our Nation's military and civilian defense officials, this will not erode America's nuclear capability, our strategic deterrent, or our national defense.
The United States will still maintain a robust nuclear triad, able to protect our country and our national security interests.
As General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former head of the United States Strategic Command, stated:
I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or that might emerge in the foreseeable future.
Additionally, these reductions in this New START treaty won't have to be completed until the treaty's seventh year, so there is plenty of time for a prudent drawdown. But while its terms are modest, its impacts are broad, and I wish now to describe some of the benefits of ratification.
I begin with the ways in which this treaty enhances our Nation's intelligence capabilities. This has been the lens through which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has viewed the treaty, and I believe the arguments are strongly positive and persuasive. There are three main points to make, and I will take them in turn.
They are, No. 1, the intelligence community can carry out its responsibility to monitor Russian activities under the treaty effectively. No. 2, this treaty, when it enters into force, will benefit intelligence collection and analysis. And No. 3, intelligence analysis indicates that failing to ratify the New START treaty will create negative consequences for the United States.
My comments today are, of course, unclassified, but I would note that there is a National Intelligence Estimate on monitoring the New START Treaty available to Senators. I have written a classified letter to Senators Kerry and Lugar that spells out these arguments in greater detail. Members are welcome to review both documents.
Following President Reagan's advice to “trust but verify,” and in line with all major arms control treaties for decades, New START includes several provisions that allow the United States to monitor how Russia is reducing and deploying its strategic arsenal, and vice versa.
The U.S. intelligence community will use these treaty provisions and other independent tools, such as the use of national technical means, for example, our satellites, to collect information on Russian forces and whether Russia is complying with the treaty's terms. These provisions include on-the-ground inspections of Russian nuclear facilities and bases--18 a year; regular exchanges on data on the warhead and missile production and locations; unique identifiers, a distinct alphanumeric code for each missile and heavy bomber for tracking purposes; a ban on blocking national technical means from collecting information on strategic forces, and other measures I will describe later in these remarks.
Without the strong monitoring and verification measures provided for in this treaty, we will know less about the number, size, location, and deployment status of Russian nuclear warheads. That is a fact.
As General Chilton, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, recently said:
Without New START, we would rapidly lose insight into Russian nuclear strategic force developments and activities, and our force modernization planning and hedging strategy would be more complex and more costly. Without such a regime, we would unfortunately be left to use worst-case analyses regarding our own force requirements.
That is what a “no” vote on this treaty means.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made the same point earlier this month. He said that if the United States doesn't ratify the treaty, Russia will have to respond, including augmentation of its stockpile. That is what voting ``no'' on this treaty means.
So these monitoring provisions are key, as are the trust and transparency they bring, and the only way to get to these provisions is through ratification.
In fact, we have not had any inspections or other monitoring tools for over a year, since the original START treaty expired, so we have less insight into any new Russian weapons and delivery systems that might be entering their force. The United States has essentially gone black on any monitoring, inspection, data exchanges, telemetry, and notification allowed by the former START treaty.
Last November, Senator Kyl and I traveled to Geneva to meet with United States and Russian negotiating teams. We met at some length with Rose Gottemoeller, the Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, who led the U.S. negotiating team. We also met with the senior members of her team, including her deputy, Ambassador Marcie Ries, Ted Warner, Mike Elliot, Kurt Siemon, and Dick Trout, who led the drafting efforts and represented the Departments of Defense and Energy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
These officials and many of the other members of the U.S. team were very impressive in their professionalism and experience. Several had participated in the negotiation of the original START treaty or the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty, the INF treaty. Several were inspectors who had conducted on-the-ground inspections in Russia under START and INF, or were weapons system operators who had been responsible for hosting Russian inspectors at U.S. bases.
This team was not composed of the uninitiated or of neophytes. They had both background and skill. They were acutely aware of the lessons learned over the past decades of arms control and negotiated this treaty with an understanding of what monitoring and compliance verification mean.
Senator Kyl and I also met two or three times during our trip to Geneva with the Russian delegation led by Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who is an experienced diplomat and negotiator. His delegation included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense, the General Staff, and key agencies such as RosAtom and RosKosmos. Like the U.S. delegations, the Russian delegation had among its members inspectors and weapons systems operators, including those from the Strategic Rocket Forces, the Navy, and the Air Force.
The treaty was still being negotiated at that time, but the rough outlines were very much coming into focus. I mentioned to the U.S. and Russian delegations that it would be difficult to get 67 votes in the Senate for a resolution saying the sky is blue. In order to get an arms treaty through the Senate, it would have to have strong monitoring provisions.
In a lengthy conversation over lunch with Russian Ambassador Antonov, I said that, as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I would have to walk onto this very floor and assure my colleagues that the provisions in this treaty are sufficient for the U.S. intelligence community to perform its monitoring role. I believe that Ambassador Antonov clearly understood that, and 1 year later I am able to say on this floor that the Intelligence Committee has reviewed the question of monitoring the New START treaty at length. It is adequate.
After the treaty was submitted to the Senate on May 13, 2010, 7 months ago, the committee began its review of its provisions and annex. We reviewed past intelligence community analyses on monitoring previous treaties and the tools available to monitor Russian behavior under this New START.
The intelligence community completed drafting its NIE on its ability to monitor the treaty's limits in June, 6 months ago. We received a copy on June 30, allowing members to review it before and after the Fourth of July recess. The committee held a hearing on the NIE with senior intelligence officials in July. Not a single one of them questioned the validity or the judgments of the estimates.
Following the hearing, the committee submitted more than 70 questions for the record and received detailed responses from the intelligence community. Those are obviously classified, but they can be seen.
In addition, the committee undertook its own independent review of the NIE and the treaty's implications for the intelligence community. Committee staff participated in more than a dozen meetings and briefings on a range of issues concerning the treaty, focusing on intelligence monitoring and collection aspects.
Based on the committee's review, after reading the NIE and other assessments, and having spoken to Directors of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, David Gompert, and Jim Clapper, it is clear to me that the intelligence community will be able to effectively monitor Russian activities under this treaty.
For the record, I wish to describe the monitoring provisions in this treaty, many of which are similar to the original START treaty's provisions.
No. 1, the treaty commits the United States and Russia “not to interfere with the national technical means of verification of the other Party.” That means not to interfere with our satellites and ``not to use concealment measures that impede verification.''
This means that Russia, as I said, agrees not to block our satellite observations of their launchers or their testing. Without this treaty, Russia could take steps to deny or block our ability to collect information on their forces.
Let me make clear, they could try, and perhaps block our satellites.
Like START, New START requires Russia to provide the United States with regular data notifications. This includes information on the production of any and all new strategic missiles, the loading of warheads onto missiles, and the location to which strategic forces are deployed. Under START, these notifications were vital to our understanding. In fact, the notification provisions under New START are stronger than those in the old START, including a requirement that Russia inform the United States when a missile or warhead moves into or out of deployed status.
Let me repeat that. There is an obligation that Russia inform us when a missile or a warhead moves into or out of deployed status.
Third, New START restores our ability to conduct on-the-ground inspections. There are none of them going on, none have been going on, for over a year. New START allows for 10 so-called type one on-site inspections of Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and bomber bases a year. The protocols for these type one inspections were written by U.S. negotiators with years of inspections experience under the original START treaty. Here is how they work.
First, U.S. inspectors choose what base they wish to inspect. Russia is restricted from moving missiles, launchers, and bombers away from that base.
Second, when the inspectors arrive they will be given a full briefing from the Russians, to include the numbers of deployed and nondeployed missile launchers or bombers at the base, the number of warheads loaded on each bomber--this is important--and the number of reentry vehicles on each ICBM or SLBM.
Third, the inspectors choose what they want to inspect. At an ICBM's base, the inspectors choose a deployed ICBM for inspection, one they want to inspect. At a submarine base they choose an SLBM. If there are any nondeployed launchers, ones not carrying missiles, the inspectors can pick one of those for inspection as well.
At air bases, the inspectors can choose up to three bombers for inspection.
Fourth, the actual inspection occurs, with the U.S. personnel verifying the number of warheads on the missiles or on the bombers chosen. As I mentioned earlier, each missile and bomber is coded with a specific code, both numerically and alphabetically, so that you know what you have chosen, and they cannot be changed.
Under this framework, our inspectors are provided comprehensive information from the Russian briefers. They are able to choose themselves how they want to verify that this information is accurate.
The treaty also provides for an additional eight inspections a year of nondeployed warheads and facilities where Russia converts or eliminates nuclear arms.
Some people have commented that the number of inspections under New START, that is, the total of 18 I have just gone through, is smaller than the 28 under the previous START treaty. This is true. But it is also true that there are half as many Russian facilities to inspect as there were in 1991 when START was signed.
In addition, inspections under New START are designed to cover more topics than inspections under the prior START agreement. In testimony from the Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, or DTRA, Kenneth Myers, the agency doing these inspections, said:
Type One inspections will be more demanding on both DTRA and site personnel, as it combines the main parts of what were formerly two separate inspections under START into a single, lengthier inspection.
That is important. The inspections are going to be better. So while the absolute number of inspections is down from 28 to 18, the ability to monitor and understand Russian forces is not lessened. I am confident we can achieve our monitoring objectives with 18 inspections a year. I also urge my colleagues to review the New START National Intelligence Estimate which addresses these issues in detail.
Let me discuss a couple of monitoring provisions that were included in the expired START treaty but are not in the treaty we are now considering. First, under START, the U.S. officials had a permanent presence at the Russian missile production facility at Votkinsk. You will hear about Votkinsk.
Inspectors could watch as missiles left the plant and were shipped to various parts of the country. New START does not include this provision. In fact, the Bush administration had taken this provision off the table in its negotiations with the Russians prior to leaving office.
New START does, however, require Russia to mark all missiles, as I have been saying, with unique identifiers so we can track their location and deployment status over the lifetime of the treaty, so it is not necessarily to have a permanent monitoring presence at Votkinsk.
The treaty also requires Russia to notify us at least 48 hours before any missile leaves a plant. So we will still have information about missile production without the permanent presence. Our inspectors and other nuclear experts have testified that these provisions are, in fact, sufficient.
Secondly, START required the United States and Russia to exchange technical data from missile tests--that is known as telemetry--to each other but not to other countries. That telemetry allows each side to calculate things such as how many warheads a missile could carry. This was important as the START treaty attributed warheads to missiles. If a Russian missile could carry 10 reentry vehicles, the treaty counted it as having 10 warheads. Information obtained through telemetry was, therefore, important to determine the capabilities of each delivery system.
New START, however, does away with these attribution rules and counts the actual number of warheads deployed on missiles; no more guessing whether a Russian missile is carrying one or eight warheads. With this change, we do not need precise calculations of the capabilities of Russian missiles in order to tell whether Russia is complying with the treaty's terms. So telemetry is not necessary to monitor compliance with New START.
Nonetheless, as a gesture to transparency, the treaty allows for the exchange of telemetry between our two countries only, up to five times a year if both sides agree to do so.
In fact, it should be pointed out that if the treaty included a broader requirement to exchange telemetry, the United States might have to share information on interceptors for missile defense, which the Department of Defense has not agreed to do.
Third, there has been a concern raised about Russian ``breakout'' capability, a fear that Russia may one day decide to secretly deploy more warheads than the treaty would allow, or to secretly build a vast stockpile that it could quickly put into its deployed force. I do not see this as a credible concern.
According to public figures, Russian strategic forces are already under or close to the limits prescribed by New START, and they have been decreasing over the past decade, not just now but over the past decade.
So the concern about a breakout is a concern that Russia would suddenly decide it wants to reverse what has been a 10-year trend and deploy more weapons than it currently believes are needed for its security. They would also have to decide to do this secretly, with the significant risk of being caught. Because of the monitoring provisions, the inspections, our national technical means and other ways we have to track Russian nuclear activities, Moscow would have a serious disincentive to do that.
Moreover, instead of developing a breakout capability, Russia could decide instead to simply withdraw from the treaty just as the United States did when President Bush withdrew from the antiballistic treaty.
Finally, even in the event that Russia did violate the treaty and pursue a breakout capability, I am confident that our nuclear capabilities are more than sufficient to continue to deter Russia and to provide assurances to our allies. The bottom line is that the intelligence community can effectively monitor this treaty. If you vote ``no'' on this treaty, there will be no monitoring.
As I noted earlier, a second question relevant to New START is whether ratifying the treaty actually enhances our intelligence collection and analysis. This is above and beyond the question of whether the intelligence community will be able to fulfill its responsibility to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty's terms.
While I am unable to go into the specifics, the clear answer to this question is, yes. The ability to conduct inspections, receive notifications, enter into continuing discussions with the Russians over the lifetime of the treaty, will provide us with information and understanding of Russian strategic forces that we simply will not have without the treaty. If you vote “no,” we will not have it.
The intelligence community will need to collect information about Russian nuclear weapons and intentions with or without a New START treaty, just as it has since the beginning of the Cold War. But absent the inspector's boots on the ground, the intelligence community will need to rely on other methods.
A November 18 article in the Washington Times noted that:
In the absence of a U.S.-Russian arms control treaty, the U.S. intelligence community is telling Congress it will need to focus more spy satellites over Russia that could be used to peer on other sites, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, to support the military.
Put even more simply, the Nation's top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was recently asked about ratification of the New START treaty. He responded:
I think the earlier, the sooner, the better. You know my thing is: From an intelligence perspective only, are we better off with it or without it? We're better off with it.
So Members should realize that if they vote “no” to ratify this treaty and lose out on its monitoring provisions, that means we are going to have to spend much more, and it is going to be much more difficult if not impossible to get certain information about Russian forces.
The final intelligence-related question on the New START treaty is, what impact ratification--or failure to ratify--will have on our other foreign policy objectives. I think this is important. We live in a different world today where there are nonstate actors, where there are two nations, Iran and Korea, moving to develop a nuclear weapon, and it is very important to be able to achieve a working relationship with the large powers that give confidence to other nations to stand with us.
This question can be addressed largely through open source intelligence. There have been numerous news reports and press conferences in the recent weeks about the broader effects of ratifying New START. Many supporters of the New START treaty have noted that ratification is a key achievement and symbol of the “reset” in Russian relations that Presidents Obama and Medvedev have sought.
But beyond generalities of an improved relationship, the Senate's rejection of New START would not only undermine our understanding of Russia's strategic forces, it could derail or disrupt a host of other U.S. policies objectives.
In Russia today, there is a heated debate over whether Moscow is better served by domestic reforms and engagements with the West, or by hard-line behavior that rejects cooperation with the West. Russians view New START as a signature product of the reforms. This is the signature product of Russian reform and the new Russian President. They view the fate of New START in this Senate as a crucial test of the reformists' claim that Russia and America can work together. If we, the Senate, reject this treaty, we can confirm what Russian hard-liners have been saying all along, the United States is not a viable partner.
Here are a few real-world examples. Russia has been allowing the United States and other members of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to transport material into Afghanistan over Russian territory. This has assisted our war efforts, especially in light of recent attacks against convoys crossing through Pakistan.
Russia has withheld delivery of the S-300 advanced air defense system to Iran and supported the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Tehran. Tehran wanted to buy this sophisticated air defense missile defense system. Russia was going to sell it to them. Russia has withheld that sale.
That is a major achievement. Also, Russia and NATO partners agreed at the recent summit in Lisbon to a new missile defense system in Europe. This is an agreement for a missile defense system which Russia has fought violently over the past decade.
At that same summit, Foreign Ministers from Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Hungary spoke out in support of the New START treaty. As neighbors to Russia and the former Soviet Union, they praised New START as necessary for the security of Europe but also as an entrance to engage in tactical nuclear weapons treaties which pose an even greater threat from state or nonstate use.
There is no quid pro quo here. Russia has not agreed to support initiatives of the United States around the world if only the Senate would ratify the New START treaty. But as every Senator knows, when we are trying to get things done, relationships matter.
The relationship between the United States and Russia has been critical since we fought together in World War II and it will continue to be so. This is an unparalleled opportunity to enhance that relationship and to say, by signature and by ratification of this treaty, that, yes, the United States of America wants to work with Russia; yes, the United States and Russia have mutual goals; and, yes, with respect to Iran and other trouble spots, the United States and Russia can, in fact, stand together.
Let me move on to the nonproliferation reasons to ratify this treaty. New START demonstrates to the world that the two nations possessing more than 90 percent of the planet's nuclear weapons are capable of working together on arms reduction and nonproliferation. A “no” vote says we are not capable of doing that.
I believe this will pave the way for more multilateral efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons as well as restrictions on tactical nuclear warheads that could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations.
Let us not forget the centerpiece of our nuclear nonproliferation regime, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It is based on a clear bargain. Those with nuclear weapons agree to eventually eliminate them, and those without nuclear weapons agree to never acquire them. With the signing of the New START treaty, the Presidents of the United States and Russia are showing the other parties to the NPT that we are living up to our end of the bargain. Without New START, with a ``no'' vote on New START, we do not do this.
This will strengthen the resolve of other nations to maintain their commitments and uphold the credibility of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, to hold violators such as Iran and North Korea accountable and subject to sanction.
In fact, we are already seeing the benefits of commitments made in the New START agreement. The latest review conference of the NPT in May of this year ended with 189 parties recommitting themselves to the NPT after the 2005 conference collapsed. On June 9, the United Nations Security Council passed a fourth sanctions resolution on Iran for its violations of its commitments under the treaty with the support of China and Russia.
Ratification of New START also opens the door to further arms control agreements, both to further arms reductions and to address tactical nuclear warheads--the smaller yield devices that are in some ways more dangerous than the strategic weapons with which we are dealing now.
Ratification moves us down the path to a world without nuclear weapons as envisioned by Presidents Obama and Reagan. For years, the idea of a nuclear-free world was ridiculed as a fantasy. This may now be beginning to change. Don't turn it down. Republicans as well as Democrats have come around to the idea that eventual nuclear disarmament is not only desirable, but it is, in fact, doable and is consistent with our national security interests. Former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger have joined forces with former Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry to make this case.
In a January 4, 2007, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, they called for U.S. leadership in building a ``solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally as a vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world.''
We can now do our part to build that consensus and help ensure that we never again see the destruction caused by nuclear weapons.
Once again, I return to these charts. I was 12 years old when I saw these pictures. I was 12 years old when I realized what a 21-kiloton and a 15-kiloton bomb can do. Many of the bombs in the U.S. and Russian arsenals are well in excess of 100 kilotons today. The number is classified but, trust me, they are well in excess. We can destroy the planet Earth with these weapons.
They are deployed and they are targeted. This treaty gives us the opportunity to reduce our arsenals--the U.S. and Russian stockpiles that now make up 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. It is a big deal. To say no to this treaty is, in fact, to say we want to go back to the days of suspicion, of not working together, of the Cold War ethos that we will succumb to the Russian hardliners and take this first major test of Russian reform and effectively trash it. We must not do that.
Mr. President, with the months of debate over this Treaty, a small number of objections have been raised. I would like to address them now.
First, some Senators infer that our nuclear weapons will become unreliable over time. They say they won't vote for this treaty unless it is linked to modernization of the arsenal.
Let's be clear. Both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy have certified that our arsenal is safe and reliable in each of the past 14 years. The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Tom D'Agostino has assured me of the surety of the stockpile. Our top scientists have told us that these weapons will remain safe and reliable for decades to come.
In fact, an independent group of scientists known as the JASONs, who advises the government on nuclear weapons, has reported that the National Nuclear Security Administration is successfully ensuring the arsenal's safety and reliability, through weapons “lifetime extension programs.”
Their September, 2009 report said that through such programs, “Lifetimes of today's nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence .....”
And President Obama has made a significant commitment to ensuring that we maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal by providing the necessary resources for as long as we have nuclear weapons.
The President's fiscal 2011 budget asks for $11.2 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a 13.4-percent increase over the fiscal 2010 budget.
This includes $7 billion for weapons activities to maintain the safety, security, and effectiveness of the arsenal, an increase of 10 percent, or $624 million from fiscal year 2010.
The President has submitted a plan calling for $80 billion over the next 10 years. In November, he added an additional $4.1 billion over the next 5 years alone to that enormous sum.
Modernization of the nuclear stockpile is surely a major priority, and I will fight to make sure these funds are appropriated. But these questions and concerns have now been addressed, and should not hold up this treaty.
Second, critics have claimed that New START will impede current and planned missile defense efforts.
They point to language in the preamble of the treaty that notes the inter-relationship between offensive and defensive strategic arms.
They point to the unilateral statement issued by Russia upon signing the treaty indicating that our missile defense plans could prompt Moscow to withdraw from the agreement.
And they note that the agreement prohibits both countries from converting additional ICBM silos or submarine launch tubes for missile defense interceptors.
These arguments are without merit.
First, the preamble language simply acknowledges what we all know: that there is a relationship between strategic offensive and defensive arms. It will not inhibit our missile defense efforts in any way.
Similar language can be found in the original START agreement, and it has not inhibited our missile defense efforts over the past two decades.
Second, the Russian unilateral statement is not a part of the agreement, and the United States is not bound by it in any way. In fact, the United States issued its own unilateral statement clearly stating that it will move forward with its missile defense plans.
Again, it should be noted that the Soviet Union issued a similar unilateral statement when START was signed and it had no impact on our missile defense plans.
Finally, regarding the prohibition on converting additional ICBM silos and SLBM launch tubes for missile defense interceptors: simply stated, our military has no plans to do so. This doesn't block the United States from anything it plans or wants to do.
It is actually cheaper to build new missile defense launchers than to convert existing launch tubes or silos. And the treaty places no constraints whatsoever on that construction.
The Secretary of Defense, the uniformed military leadership, and the head of the Missile Defense Agency have testified this treaty will not harm missile defense.
These concerns have been raised, debated, and answered. It is time for ratification.
Mr. President, the choice before us is not New START and the treaty that some of my colleagues would prefer to have. Rather, the choice is between New START and no arms control treaty at all. To me, that choice is easy.
Either we make progress on reducing our nuclear arsenals and lay the foundation for further reductions including on tactical nuclear weapons or we do not.
New START is in our Nation's national security. Every day that passes without ratification is another day without inspectors on the ground in Russia and a decrease in mutual transparency and trust.
The Senate has a long tradition of overwhelming support for treaties like this one: the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was approved 93-5; the 1991 START agreement which was approved 93-6; and the 2002 Moscow Treaty which was approved 95-0.
There is nothing in this treaty to suggest that the vote on its ratification should be any different. This should be an easy step for the Senate to take, a step that should be taken in the spirit of protecting our Nation and the world from the devastation of a nuclear war.
I urge my colleagues to support this agreement.
I yield the floor.