New Paradigms Forum
May 10, 2010
by Christopher Ford
I was recently sent a copy of the detailed report by Amy Woolf from the Congressional Research Service on the new U.S.-Russian “New START” agreement. (For a PDF of her report, click here: CRS on New START.pdf.) I know Amy, respect her work greatly, and want carefully to look over her account of the mobile-missile questions I raised in my NPF postings of April 26 and May 3, 2010. In the interim, however, I thought it would be interesting to flag a point that comes up obliquely in the first paragraph of her report. There, she recounts that:
“New START will enter into force when the U.S. Senate provides its advice and consent to ratification
and the Russian Parliament approves the Treaty. When it enters into force, New START will
supersede the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (known as the Moscow Treaty), which was slated to remain in force until the end of 2012.”
This accurately summarizes the provisions of the new treaty. Pursuant to Article XIV(1) of “New START,” the treaty and the Protocol will enter into force “on the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification.” Article XIV(4) also provides that the treaty will, upon entry into force (EIF), supersede the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
So far, so good. But let’s do the math – or rather, take out our calendars. Under Article II(1) of “New START,” the new treaty’s numerical limits must be reached within seven years from EIF. (Article XIV(2) also spells out that the new agreement “shall remain in force for 10 years unless it is superseded earlier by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.”) It makes some sense to delay the imposition of force limits: the parties need to have some time in which to come down to the requisite levels. In conjunction with Article XIV(4), however, this has some somewhat surprising implications.
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that “New START” is approved by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma by the end of 2010. Pursuant to Article II(1), the new treaty’s force limits therefore will not kick in until the end 2017. There aren’t any phased reduction “stepping stones,” however, so “New START” provides no limits whatsoever on either side’s nuclear forces until that date.
And here is where it gets amusing: “New START” is for some reason written to eliminate all other limits on
One can only assume that repudiating the Moscow Treaty – derided for years by many of the same luminaries of the arms control left who now populate the Obama Administration’s nuclear policy team – was a politically-imposed requirement, and that New START’s Article XIV(4) is the offspring of the Obama Administration’s knee-jerk reflex of publicly expressing contempt for nearly everything having anything to do with George W. Bush. But it certainly wasn’t in any way substantively necessary: there is no incompatibility between imposing
As it is, the immediate effect of “New START” will be completely to remove all limits on
To be sure, even if “New START” didn’t supersede the Moscow Treaty, there would be an interval between the Moscow Treaty date of December 2012 and the seven-years-from-EIF deadline of the new agreement, during which period no limits would obtain on either side. And even under the Moscow Treaty, of course, there would have been no limits applying between START’s expiration at the end of 2009 and the
One wouldn’t want to make too much of this, of course. My guess is that most Senate conservatives will not find this arms-control-free gap too troubling, so I don’t imagine this is likely to be an impediment to ratification. Nevertheless, the oddity of the new agreement’s erasure of the Moscow Treaty might signal some lack of care and clear thinking on the part of the Obama Administration – or perhaps a worrisome intrusion of anti-Bush political posturing into substantive strategic policy decisions. In either case, it suggests the need for Senators to study the rest of the “New START” deal all the more closely.
Christopher A. Ford was formerly Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Technology and Global Security at Hudson Institute.
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