Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing: The Role of Strategic Arms Control in a Post-Cold War World (The New START Treaty)
May 25, 2010
On Tuesday May 25, Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the New START Treaty, unequivocally recommending the treaty’s ratification.
Secretary Kissinger is experienced in the field of arms control and nuclear security—he is author of Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, he negotiated the first agreement to limit U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons through the SALT I accord, and in 2007 he became one of the most well known figures to endorse the goal of creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
He referred to the New START Treaty as a continuation of decades of work by previous administrations and “a modest step forward” in “somewhat” reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world and stabilizing American and Russian relations, both of which improve transparency and stability and support the current administration’s objectives. He emphasized the importance in continuing dialogue with the Russians, without which the world would be subject to the greatest dangers, devoid of regulation. He said this cooperative relationship is important for success in arms control as well as in solving other global concerns.
Secretary Kissinger emphasized repeatedly that the consequences of non-ratification, saying that this would signal to both allies and enemies abroad a change in American polity and a new inclination to use of nuclear weapons.
Secretary Kissinger brought up concerns that he said relate not to the text of the treaty, but to the international system in which the treaty will exist. He commented that when arms control started, the Soviet Union was a global enemy, but that today, war with Russia is a negligible danger. Similarly, when arms control began, the world was of a bipolar structure; today’s nuclear threat is multifaceted.
From these considerations, he gave two recommendations which he said should guide future nuclear discussions: today’s bilateral discussions should eventually be transformed into multilateral discussions, and tactical nuclear weapons must play a part of any future nuclear arms discussions.
Lastly he added that our goals should include: the elimination of the use of nuclear weapons by choice, the removal of any incentive to initiate nuclear war, and the elimination of the risk of war by miscalculation.
In response to Senate Committee member’s questions, substantive comments from Secretary Kissinger included:
•The treaty does not limit missile defense or modernization; “a robust program of modernization” should be part of these discussions.
•Modernization is a unilateral decision and taken by the Executive branch; as such, Republicans should not fear that this bilateral treaty limits our capacity to modernize.
•No one should ever envision a world with unlimited use of tactical nuclear weapons.
•We have enough nuclear weapons today to maintain deterrence.
•U.S. and Russian negotiations on nuclear weapons should become a pattern for the rest of the world.
•Agrees with Secretary Baker that we should not limit the flexibility of future Presidents in regard to missile defense, but in regards to the treaty this is “not important.”
•Agrees with Secretary Gates that the goal of our missile defense program is NOT to create an invulnerable defense, but to defend ourselves against rogue states and terrorist groups.
•In today’s international system, the U.S. would not gain by building more missiles than the Russians.
•In regards to Iran, the control of Iran’s behavior will be more important to Russian security than to American security, and Russia knows this.
•The argument for this treaty is not to placate Russia, but to improve American national security. It is in the American interest.
•The language in the NPR concerning the use of chemical and biological weapons by non-nuclear states is dangerous, and “incentivizes” states to pursue biological or chemical weapons programs.
•Arms control is not a bi-partisan issue, it is a non-partisan issue.
Secretary Kissinger concluded: “I recommend the ratification of this treaty.”