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Kyl Wrong on the Impact of U.S. Nuclear Policies
WASHINGTON - May 24 - Today, experts at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation responded to recent remarks from Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) regarding current nuclear arms control efforts, including the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (“New START”) between the United States and Russia.
In May 19 remarks at the Nixon Center’s National Policy Conference, Kyl argued that:
“Bottom line: there is no evidence our moral leadership in arms control and disarmament will convince countries to set aside their calculations of the impact of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism on their national security, and help us address these threats. ” [emphasis added]
According to Center Executive Director John Isaacs, who has represented the Center and its affiliated Council for a Livable World on Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, “Kyl goes from speech to statement to letter probing for weak points in the New START agreement without being able to find any. In his latest remarks, Senator Kyl is just plain wrong. And that conclusion comes from some very distinguished practitioners of national security policy.”
These distinguished practitioners include former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, Kyl’s comrade-in-arms over the years in opposing the test ban treaty, who urged the Senate to approve the New START agreement on April 29, in part because it would help America’s nuclear non-proliferation efforts:
“I think that the principal defect, if the Senate does not ratify, lies in the political area in some of the points that have already been made by Secretary Perry. To wit, for the United States at this juncture to fail to ratify the treaty in the due course of the Senate's deliberation would have a detrimental effect on our ability to influence others with regard to particularly the nonproliferation issue.”
At the same hearing, former Defense Secretary William Perry touted the value of New START in dealing with proliferation and nuclear terrorism:
“It gives a clear signal to the world that the United States is serious about carrying out its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This will be welcomed as a positive step by all other members of the NPT. So why is that important? I believe that the greatest nuclear threat we face today is from nuclear terrorism or proliferation. This is an international problem and requires an international solution. None of our objectives in this field can be achieved without the cooperation of other nations of the world.”
On May 19, former Secretary of States James Baker agreed on the importance of arms control agreements in strengthening U.S. efforts to reduce nuclear dangers:
“It is precisely at times when relations are warming that we can accomplish the most by reducing nuclear dangers and reinforcing our ability to cooperate. That enhanced cooperation in turn enables us to further reduce nuclear dangers, establishing a virtuous circle that strengthens American security.”
The day before, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen endorsed the New START agreement on the grounds that it reinforces the wider effort to prevent nuclear terrorism:
“This treaty is also a critical element in the President’s agenda for reducing nuclear risks to the United States, our allies and partners, and the wider international community. Our recently concluded NPR acknowledges the continuing role for nuclear weapons in the defense of America, while placing additional emphasis on positive steps to prevent nuclear terrorism and the risks from nuclear proliferation.”
Similarly, the final report of bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States concluded:
nations may not show the nuclear restraint the United States desires or
support nonproliferation efforts if the nuclear weapon states take no
further agreed steps to decrease their reliance on nuclear arms."
A list of other moderates and conservatives who support New START, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General William Cartwright, STRATCOM Commander General Kevin Chilton, and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), can be found on the Center’s website as part of its comprehensive START Resource Center.