In a statement on the New START treaty with the press this morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the full Senate must provide its advice and consent to ratification of the agreement when it returns in September.
“Our national security is at risk,” Clinton said. “It’s been more than eight months since we’ve had inspectors on the ground in Russia” who give “a vital window into Russia’s arsenal.”
Clinton added: The treaty “will advance our national security and provide stability and predictability between the world’s two leading nuclear powers.”
NoH will post a full copy of the statement when it’s available.
UPDATE 8/11: Secretary Clinton’s full statement is pasted below the jump.
UPDATE #2 8/11: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) gave a great speech on New START this morning to open the 2010 Strategic Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, Nebraska.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Rose, why don’t you come up here and Rich, come on up here. They are two of the numerous people here in the State Department, the Defense Department, the Energy Department, the White House, you name it, across our government who have worked on this treaty and are now working on its ratification.
Next month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will bring the new START treaty one step closer to ratification. Last week, I was pleased to meet with Chairman John Kerry to discuss the committee’s schedule for consideration of the treaty on September 15th or 16th and in the full Senate soon after. The Chairman and Ranking Member Senator Lugar have constructed a good plan, and I am confident about the prospects for ratification.
In the weeks and months since the treaty was submitted to the Senate, it has earned bipartisan support from senators on both sides of the aisle as well as statesmen in and out of government from both parties. They understand that once the new START treaty is ratified and enters into force, it will advance our national security and provide stability and predictability between the world’s two leading nuclear powers.
We have worked closely with the Senate throughout this process. We welcomed senators to Geneva to observe the negotiations. The Senate has held 18 hearings, along with three classified briefings on the treaty. And in the wake of the hearings, we are providing answers to nearly 800 questions submitted for the record. There’s a lot of material for senators to review during this break, and we are working to resolve any outstanding questions they might have. We’ve already addressed several key issues, reassuring those who had had questions on such issues as missile defense or investment in our nuclear complex or verification.
This treaty will verifiably limit the strategic nuclear forces of Russia and the United States and will establish equal limits on both countries’ strategic warheads, delivery vehicles, and launchers.
This treaty will provide for inspections that the United States would not otherwise be able to hold. For 15 years, START provided us access to monitor and inspect Russia’s nuclear arsenal. START, as you know, expired last December. It, therefore, has been more than eight months since we have had inspectors on the ground in Russia. This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia’s arsenal. This treaty in no way does or will constrain our ability to modernize our nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our allies, friends, and partners.
With respect to our nation’s nuclear complex, Secretary of Energy Chu, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Tom D’Agostino, and the directors of our nation’s three national laboratories have all testified that nothing in the treaty will affect our ability to modernize our nuclear complex and maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent.
In fact, President Obama’s budget request for the next fiscal year represents a 13 percent increase for weapons activities and infrastructure. Over the next decade we are asking for an $80 billion investment in our nuclear security complex. Linton Brooks, the head of President Bush’s national security complex, has applauded our budget and our commitment to nuclear modernization. Seven former commanders of the U.S. nuclear strategic planning effort have endorsed the new START treaty and recommended early approval by the U.S. Senate.
President Bush actually began this process more than two years ago with broad, bipartisan agreement that a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was imperative for the peace and security of our world. The Obama Administration has followed through with painstaking negotiations to finalize an agreement that lives up to this high standard and makes concrete steps to reduce the threat of strategic arms.
This treaty is another step in the process of bilateral nuclear reductions initiated by President Reagan and supported overwhelmingly by both Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses alike. In every instance, the Senate has ratified such treaties with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The Chairman’s decision to give members of both sides of the aisle additional time to review the underlying materials, but set a committee vote for the middle of September, is a gesture of good faith and underscores the tradition of bipartisan support.
But when the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk. There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia which only hurts our national security interests. Our ability to know and understand changes in Russia’s nuclear arsenal will erode without the treaty. As time passes, uncertainty will increase. With uncertainty comes unpredictability, which, when you’re dealing with nuclear weapons, is absolutely a problem that must be addressed. Ratifying the new START treaty will prevent that outcome.
So this month and next, I look forward to working with members of the Senate, especially Senators Kerry and Lugar, to move the treaty out of committee and on to consideration by the full Senate. We’d be happy to take your questions and I’ll have Rose and Rich respond to most of them.