The U.S. and its allies are currently in Geneva negotiating with Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons projects. But the U.S. faces another pressing foreign policy challenge that simply cannot be placed on hold. A top priority is the establishment of a national unity government in Iraq that will not be beholden to Iran.
It was a very different world back in 1991 when George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the START I treaty in the Kremlin on a warm summer day. Initiated by Ronald Reagan under the Cold War, START I became a symbol of a new world based on a growing trust between two former enemies.
After more than 20 hearings and testimony from military and diplomatic officials that has seen more than 900 questions asked and answered, a strong bipartisan consensus has emerged on a simple point about the New START treaty: it makes America more safe.
I served in the nuclear arena of our national defense during and following the Cold War; I was the Deputy Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff of U.S. Strategic Command before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. Prior to this I commanded the 14,500 men and women of the U.S. 20th Air Force, and was responsible for all U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, seven major subordinate units, operational training, testing, security and readiness. I know about our nuclear security. It is out of this concern for the safety and security of the country that the Senate should promptly ratify New START.
The New START nuclear reductions treaty, signed by the U.S. and Russia in April, would verifiably limit the still enormous Russian nuclear arsenal and restore an essential window into its size and make-up that we haven’t had since START I expired one year ago this Sunday. In addition, the treaty will allow the U.S. to maintain a robust and flexible nuclear deterrent and places no meaningful limits on missile defense programs.
When the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are united, they usually get what they want. And they really want the New START treaty.
Next Sunday will mark a full year since the original START expired, removing our ability to monitor the Russian nuclear forces. At last week’s NATO Summit, the 27 member countries expressed their desire to see New START ratified by the U.S. Senate, adding their voices to a broad coalition of U.S. national security experts and former senior Republican officials who favor this important pact. Our military officers do not take these pronouncements lightly, and their unambiguous support should serve as a wake-up call — without New START, our national security is at risk.
On Oct. 26, 2010, one-ninth of the United State’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) went offline at F. E. Warren Air Force base in Wyoming.
By ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Senate risks taking America’s nuclear deterrent offline.
In a year that commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Accords – the Cold War agreement that forever tied human rights to a holistic view of global security – it is time we do more than merely recommit to our shared values at this week’s 56-nation summit of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.