Last week, former Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker published an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal lambasting the trajectory of President Obama’s arms control agenda.
To get a better idea of where Rademaker is coming from, check out this interview he did with Arms Control Today back in 2005. In the category of “You can’t make this stuff up”, Rademaker refers to the U.S. record of compliance with Article VI as “unassailable” and describes the START I counting rules as “just sophistry”.
Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., a special representative for arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament under President Clinton and a member of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation’s National Advisory Board, penned the following letter to the editor in response…
Arms Control Has Been Bipartisan
In “Why Democrats Fail at Arms Control” (op-ed, Sept. 24), Stephen Rademaker argues that Democratic presidents have failed with Russia on strategic arms control agreements because of “their excessive enthusiasm and ambition.” I disagree. In fact, at least until 2001, the conduct of the strategic arms control process in the U.S. was remarkably bipartisan.
As for the current negotiations, Mr. Rademaker claims that President Barack Obama overreached in trying to achieve deeper reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals rather than simply “replacing the START verification regime.” However, neither side favored a simple extension. Simply extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty without deeper reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, fails to address the fact that the outdated START limits of 6,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons are simply too high to be acceptable in today’s world.
Reductions require other changes and will be consistent with the now world-wide consensus to move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, expressed by the recent United Nations Security Council resolution. Such reductions are also a partial implementation of one of the key U.S. promises—to reduce nuclear arsenals—made in exchange for most countries giving up forever their right to acquire nuclear weapons when the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, a historic diplomatic and strategic success of the Clinton administration.
Mr. Rademaker also claims that the president should not have sought to limit both deployed warheads and delivery systems. Limits on delivery vehicles, which were central to START, facilitate verification and reduce the risk of quickly increasing deployed forces.
Finally, contrary to Mr. Rademaker’s characterization of President Obama’s negotiating position on missile defense and strategic conventional weapons, both the U.S. and Russia have stated repeatedly that the new START treaty will address only strategic offensive forces.
Legally binding and verifiable arms reductions remain vital tools to strengthen U.S. security.
Ambassador Graham was special representative for arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament under President Clinton.