First of all, we did not sign up to the New START Treaty as a favor to anybody, let alone Russia—any more than 95 United States Senators in 2003 – under President Bush – were doing a favor for Russia when they voted to support the Bush Administration’s Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.
Talk to former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. He certainly wasn’t seeking to do a favor when he supported New START—neither were the commanders of U.S. Strategic Command, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Brent Scowcroft, and Jim Schlesinger. The only question for them was whether the treaty benefited our national security. They thought it did, and as I said, 71 Senators agreed.
Frankly, those who say we should just walk away from New START – or who never supported it in the first place because of our differences with Russia – really have a fundamental responsibility which they have not fulfilled: which is explain to the American people how retaining more nuclear weapons than our military advisers say we need, and how having less insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, how that would change Russia’s calculus toward Syria or its approach to human rights – or any other issue. We need to see the logic of that.
Of course, when the Senate ratified New START, it also supported additional resources needed to maintain our own nuclear weapons infrastructure. Far from falling short on its commitments, the Administration has been working hard to provide increased support for the complex at a time when almost all other budgets are being slashed. Last year, the President requested what he said he would under the ten-year plan to fund the nuclear weapons complex. It was the House of Representatives that cut the funding below the request, not the President, and not the Senate. And this year, the President asked for another five percent increase for this budget over last year.
John Kerry, opening remarks delivered at a June 21 hearing on the New START treaty and related matters. You can read Senator Kerry’s full statement here. You can view an archived webcast of the hearing here.