Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has an Op-Ed in today’s Wall Street Journal on New START. The last paragraph is the key paragraph:
The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America’s military leadership—to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result—on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people.
1. Given that DoD plans to deploy up to 240 SLBMs and keep 14 boomers (probably 12 deployed with 20 SLBMs each and 2 in overhaul), we’re really going to be putting Section IV of Part III of the Protocol and the Ninth Agreed Statement to work. Amy Woolf runs the numbers here.
2. The Senate ICBM coalition fared pretty well.
It looks like one squadron of 50 Minuteman III ICBM’s will now become non-deployed, but DoD will retain all 450 silos. Recall that non-deployed ICBMs are not limited by the treaty, so the U.S. will not have to destroy the extra missiles. There also appears to be a built-in ceiling of 20 ICBMs for a prompt global strike capability, in the event that DoD decides to deploy it.Update 5/13: Upon closer inspection it looks like the 420 number for deployed ICBMs probably has nothing to do with Prompt Global Strike. Jeffrey asks some questions here . I think the key point, as he notes, is that the administration has seven years to figure out how to get down to 700 deployed delivery vehicles, and they may not be quite sure how they’re going to do that yet.
3. I was glad to see Gates say that the treaty “limits significantly U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals” instead of something like“the limit is 30 percent lower than the limit in SORT.” The former formulation is more accurate.