Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of NATO, published an op-ed today urging the Senate to approve the New START Treaty. “Ratifying the New Start treaty would create opportunities for even greater cooperation [with Russia] in the future and enhance European security,” he writes.
Rasmussen’s timing is propitious. In an article published today in the Morning Sentinel, Senator Collins of Maine said the following on New START:
The one outstanding concern is that the treaty does not deal with nuclear tactical weapons, the short range battlefield weapons, where the Russians have a 10 to 1 advantage over our arsenal.
I am writing a letter to (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) asking what the administration’s plans are for dealing with the imbalance in tactical weapons. If that concern is answered to my satisfaction by the administration, I will vote for the treaty.
To answer Senator Collins concerns, I refer to secretary general Rasmussen’s comments on tactical nukes in today’s op-ed :
The New Start treaty would also pave the way for arms control and disarmament initiatives in other areas that are vital to Euro-Atlantic security. Most important would be transparency and reductions of short-range, tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, which allies have called for in our new “Strategic Concept.” This is a key concern for allies — not only those closest to Russia’s borders — in light of the great disparity between the levels of Russian tactical nuclear weapons and those of NATO. But we cannot address this disparity until the New Start treaty is ratified. Which is another reason why ratification would set the stage for further improvements in European security.
Senator Collins is right to be concerned about tactical nuclear weapons. But let’s take this one treaty at a time, get New START done, and pave the way for talks on an agreement on tactical nuclear weapons. As Rasmussen notes, we will not make any progress unless we ratify New START.