The Problem With START

What would you think should be the top priority in Washington today?

It’s a lame-duck session. Time is running out. Unemployment is high, the economy is dangerously weak, and, with five (now less than three) weeks to go, no one knows what tax they’ll be paying on everything from income to dividends to death when the current rates expire Jan. 1. And what is the president demanding that Congress pass as “a top priority”? To what did he devote his latest weekly radio address? Ratification of his New START treaty.

It just gives the world a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that the United States and Russia want to scale back their nuclear arsenals.  But like Charles Krauthammer says, in post-Soviet days, ‘the Russians are no longer an existential threat. A nuclear exchange between Washington and Moscow is inconceivable.’ It is the rogue nations of the world like Iran and North Korea that need our attention. What, we voluntarily disarm while the world’s rogues and psychopaths develop nukes in secret? START ignores the real nuclear danger.

Says Krauthammer, ‘Obama’s idea that the great powers must reduce their weapons to set a moral example for the rest of the world to disarm is simply childish. Does anyone seriously believe that the mullahs in Iran or the thugs in Pyongyang will in any way be deflected from their pursuit of nukes by a reduction in the U.S. arsenal?’

OK, besides Obama’s premise being all wrong, there is a real and substantive problem with the treaty, and it is a deal breaker for Russia if it is taken out. It concerns our defensive weapons technology. Usually, ‘arms control’ deals with offensive weapons. START however, includes defensive capabilities. Aside from warheads, and defensive technology, delivery systems are also included in the mix.

  1. One difficulty is that it restricts the number of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. But because some of these are dual-use, our ability to deliver long-range conventional weapons, a major U.S. strategic advantage, is constrained.
  2. The second problem is the recurrence of language in the treaty preamble linking offensive to defensive nuclear weaponry. We have a huge lead over the rest of the world in anti-missile defenses. Ever since the Reagan days, the Russians have been determined to undo this advantage. The New START treaty affirms the “interrelationship” between offense and defense. And Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has insisted that “the unchangeability of circumstances” — translation: no major advances in U.S. anti-missile deployment — is a condition of the entire treaty. {emphasis added}
  3. The worst thing about this treaty, however, is that it is simply a distraction. It gives the illusion of doing something about nuclear danger by addressing a non-problem, Russia, while doing nothing about the real problem — Iran and North Korea.

The utter irrelevance of New START to nuclear safety was dramatically underscored by the revelation of that North Korean uranium-enrichment plant, built with such sophistication that it left the former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory “stunned.” It could become the ultimate proliferation factory. Pyongyang is already a serial proliferator. It has nothing else to sell. Iran, Syria, and al-Qaeda have the money to buy.

Iran’s Islamic Republic lives to bring down the Great Satan. North Korea, nuclear-armed and in a succession crisis, has just shelled South Korean territory for the first time since the Korean armistice. Obama peddling New START is the guy looking for his wallet under the lamppost because that’s where the light is good — even though he lost the wallet on the other side of town.

UPDATE: 12/13/2010, 4:00 PM, and for today’s headline. . . ‘North Korea threatens South with nuclear war’   Any questions?

Link: The Irrelevance of START | North Korea threatens South with nuclear war

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *