During his colloquy yesterday with Senator Kerry, Senator Kyl argued that New START’s preambular language noting an interrelationship between offensive and defensive forces, together with Russia’s unilateral statement stating that improvements in U.S. missile defense capabilities could be grounds for withdrawal from the treaty, gives the Russians powerful leverage over the future direction of U.S. missile defense programs
As such, some Republicans plan to support a treaty killing amendment to be offered by Senator McCain (today?) to remove the language on missile defense from the preamble so that Russia can’t threaten to withdraw from the treaty if the U.S. expands its missile defenses.
In a Dear Colleague letter sent to other Senators yesterday, Senator Lugar (R-IN) reiterated that amending the preamble in this way would be pointless and counterproductive:
Russia’s ability to withdraw from the New START Treaty over concerns about U.S. missile defense plans does not depend on language in the treaty’s preamble. Russia’s ability to withdraw from the New START Treaty is governed by Article XIV of the Treaty, which reads, in pertinent part, that: “Each party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme national interests.” Removing language from the treaty’s preamble will not constrain Russia’s ability to decide for itself whether to withdraw from the treaty pursuant to Article XIV.
Some might argue that the Senate should seek to amend Article XIV to assert that Russian objections to U.S. missile defense are not a basis for withdrawing from the treaty. But such a course would not be in our interest because it would likely require us to agree to corresponding constraints on our right to decide for ourselves under what circumstances we may withdraw from the treaty.