Under the New START Treaty, Congress is free to fund necessary modernization efforts to keep the nuclear enterprise safe and secure, while policymakers are free to plan nuclear weapons reductions and adjust the nuclear force structure to reflect 21st century priorities.
Finally, the success of New START provides a sounds basis for future nuclear negotiations. Reductions in tactical nuclear weapons, where Russia has a large advantage, could be the next step. The Congress attached a provision in the New START resolution of ratification directing the Administration to pursue reductions in U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.
The Treaty also sets the stage for a new treaty further reducing the strategic nuclear forces of both sides. Many agree that further reductions are desirable and practical, considering the success of New START, our excess strategic forces and their waning utility in the face of more urgent threats.
Former defense and national security officials, including former STRATCOM commanders, have endorsed this approach to updating U.S. nuclear policy. The recent Global Zero Commission brought some of these officials together, from General James Cartwright to Senator Chuck Hagel to Ambassador Thomas Pickering. The Commission Report highlighted the strategic irrelevance of nuclear weapons and called for steep nuclear reductions, using the New START treaty as a starting point.
The New START Treaty still has its critics. But the charges leveled at the treaty are based partly political rhetoric and partly in misunderstanding of the treaty provisions. An impartial look at the evidence sets the recordstraight. One year of New START implementation has enhanced U.S. interests. And it will continue to benefit U.S. national security as policymakers build on the treaty’s success to bring U.S. nuclear policy into the 21st century.
Lodge is the director of nuclear security at the nonpartisan American Security Project. She has worked in the nuclear field for over 30 years.