In a speech last week, Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, made a forceful and convincing case for a START follow-on agreement.
The speech came at just the right time. Arms control opponents have blanketed the airwaves and op-ed pages with preemptive attacks on President Obama’s arms control agenda. Gottemoeller’s remarks, along with those by Ellen Tauscher a few weeks ago, demonstrate how persuasive this administration can be and how effectively it can rebut criticism from the usual suspects.
Gottemoeller’s and Tauscher’s speeches, though excellent, were not enough. We need to hear from the Pentagon and military leadership. We need to hear from Vice President Biden. And we need to hear from the entire Obama team more frequently and more rapidly, particularly when confronted with high-level political attacks.
While I understand that the White House has a lot of things on its plate at the moment, we are living in a seminal moment for the future arms control. Who knows the next time we will be presented with such excellent opportunities. The time for action, whether speech- or treaty-making, is now.
With that, I present the highlights from Gottemoeller’s remarks…
Six Reasons for START
1. “The first point is that [a START follow-on] will combine the predictability of START with the flexibility of the Moscow Treaty, but at lower numbers of delivery vehicles and their associated warheads. This flexibility gives us the freedom to determine our nuclear force structure within set limits to be established by this new treaty.”
2. “The new treaty will also draw from the START verification regime; and, therefore, will provide predictability regarding the strategic forces on both sides – both for existing force structure and modernization programs.”
3. “For the Administration, the new treaty is valuable in that it will enhance our national security. It will establish a strategic balance that reflects the current security environment in a way that benefits each party and promotes peace and stability.”
4. “Moreover, the ability of the United States to persuade other nations to act collectively against those states committed to developing nuclear weapons will be bolstered through reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. It is a matter of moral suasion.”
5. “The START Follow-on Treaty [i]s the first step in a process of pursuing further nuclear weapons reductions. I believe a new START Treaty is an essential step on the path to deeper reductions in the future.”
6. “Just as important, [a START follow-on] begins a new narrative for our post-Cold War world, one that recognizes the need to eliminate the paralyzing threat of nuclear war by eliminating nuclear weapons.”
Rebuttals to Criticisms of START
1. “Some say that START Follow-on will not induce other countries to give up their weapons programs. In and of itself, START Follow-on does not exist for that purpose…The ability of the United States to persuade other nations to act collectively against those states committed to developing nuclear weapons will be bolstered through reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. It is a matter of moral suasion.”
2. “Critics have also said that we are agreeing on the New START Treaty ahead of the completion of the Nuclear Posture Review. That is not the case. The Obama Administration tasked the NPR working groups, as a first step, to develop a nuclear force structure and posture for use in these negotiations. While the NPR’s work is still ongoing, it will continue to inform the positions taken by the United States as it negotiates the new START Treaty with Russia.”