Skip to main content

The START Treaty Gets a Push

Jon-Kyl The new START treaty between the United States and Russia (the previous one expired in December) has fallen off the radar a bit since President Barack Obama signed it and sent it to Congress last May. The treaty was not ratified before Congress’ August recess.

Here’s what the treaty means to do, in its own words:

1. Each Party shall reduce and limit its ICBMs and ICBM
launchers, SLBMs and SLBM launchers, heavy bombers, ICBM
warheads, SLBM warheads, and heavy bomber nuclear armaments, so that seven years after entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter, the aggregate numbers, as counted in accordance with Article I11 of this Treaty, do not exceed:

(a) 700, for deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed
heavy bombers;

(b) 1550, for warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on
deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed
heavy bombers;

(c) 800, for deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers,
deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and deployed and
non-deployed heavy bombers.

Those 1,550 warheads for each country would represent a reduction from 2,200 warheads currently. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave a speech Wednesday to push the treaty along:

President Bush actually began this process more than two years ago with broad, bipartisan agreement that a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was imperative for the peace and security of our world. The Obama Administration has followed through with painstaking negotiations to finalize an agreement that lives up to this high standard and makes concrete steps to reduce the threat of strategic arms.

This treaty is another step in the process of bilateral nuclear reductions initiated by President Reagan and supported overwhelmingly by both Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses alike. In every instance, the Senate has ratified such treaties with overwhelming bipartisan support.

So far, only Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) has signaled approval on the Republican side of the aisle, but since he’s the ranking member on the Foreign Relations committee, his endorsement carries considerable weight.

Where Republicans have voiced concerns, it is about the state of the nuclear arsenal and a need to modernize it.

"There is a fair amount of concern among conservative circles that our strategic nuclear forces need to be modernized and indeed they do.  The strategic forces the U.S. has today are the product of a recapitalization [modernization] effort done by the Reagan administration - so they are 20, to 30-years-old. They do need to be modernized," [Frank Miller, a former senior official on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush] said.

Here’s Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) on this issue:

That’s why I offered an amendment last year that requires the President to develop a plan to modernize our nuclear deterrent and submit it to the Senate along with a START follow-on treaty.  Senators Byrd, Levin, McCain, Kerry, and Lugar joined me in writing to the President to emphasize the point.  Subsequently, 41 Senators wrote to the President in December, articulating the objectives that a modernization plan must meet before a START follow-on agreement could win their support.

The treaty addresses modernization directly.

1. Subject to the provisions of this Treaty, modernization
and replacement of strategic offensive arms may be carried
out.

And the main provision regarding this is that, if Russia or the U.S. devise a new kind of weapon, the other can raise questions about it. However, the Senate wants to mandate that modernization, which the treaty does not do. Secretary Clinton offered some reassurance during her speech:

In fact, President Obama’s budget request for the next fiscal year represents a 13 percent increase for weapons activities and infrastructure. Over the next decade we are asking for an $80 billion investment in our nuclear security complex. Linton Brooks, the head of President Bush’s national security complex, has applauded our budget and our commitment to nuclear modernization.

I ran into some starkly wrong or overly partisan responses to the treaty, but they haven’t really gained much traction. It may be that the mid-term elections may ultimately delay a vote, but right now, it looks like debate will start in September. So let’s follow this one and see where it leads.

Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.). I haven’t seen enough of Kyl to know if he favors big gestures – but this one is pretty expressive.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…