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Category: Nuclear Weapons

New START and Senate Processes: A Critique of Last Resort?

Stephen Rademaker's recent piece in the Washington Post is the latest in a series of offensives against the New START treaty with Russia.  He falsely plants the blame for the delayed ratification schedule on the Democrats, although it is the Republicans who have spent the past few months scrambling to hold the treaty hostage to political maneuvering. On the plus side, he implicitly concedes that the debate on the content of the treaty is essentially over - he has no beef with the text or implications of New START. At a loss for substantive things to critique, he turns to an otherwise tedious and boring topic: Senate processes.

Rademaker says that critics of the treaty have been unfairly excluded from the process, but the evidence is to the contrary. Claiming that Senate leaders haven't given Republicans time to formally file their complaints with the treaty is a criticism of last resort. There have been 20 hearings, three classified briefings and almost 800 questions asked on the record. There have been countless meetings between concerned Senators (primarily Republicans) Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden, and various members of the negotiating team. 

The negotiating record on missile defense was shared with the Senators who asked for it, even though Senator Kerry pointed out that the precedent for this practice is minimal and should be repeated only with caution. That sentiment goes as far back as George Washington, who firmly opposed sharing a treaty's negotiating record. 

Maroon 5 Drops F-Bomb to oppose Dropping the H-Bomb

Two members of Maroon 5, a widely popular American rock band, recently taped a PSA in support of new-START and the film Countdown to Zero. They are part of a growing number of musicians who have spoken out in support of the new-START treaty. You can watch the video below. The video is somewhat NSFW and includes questionable content, but it's ok to drop the f-bomb if it is supporting a nuclear weapons free world.

You can find more Musicians supporting new-START HERE.

To take action now visit the new-START treaty page on Facebook.

Lessons from Hiroshima

August 6th marks the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima. The atomic bomb, dropped from an American B-29 war plane on the morning of August 6, 1945, killed 140,000 people; some were incinerated mid-step on the pavement.  In addition to U.N Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, a U.S Ambassador will be present at the Japanese commemoration for the first time.

The invention of the bomb was one of many regrettable byproducts of a world at war. Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein drafted a resolution in 1955 giving warning to the threat of nuclear war. They urged governments to "find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute."  There is greater demand than ever before for governments to find peaceful ways to settle disputes, often through treaties and international institutions. Despite the positive trend, there are still thousands of nuclear weapons looming in the arsenals of a handful of nations. These weapons have evolved significantly over the years. The codenames for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" respectively. Today we are dealing with weapons of morbid obesity.

One of the most daunting threats to the continued survival of our world is nuclear war. Since nuclear weapons cannot be "un-invented", we need to find the political will to confine them to the pages of history books. Political will is needed for nations to trust each other. It is needed for politicians to ratify treaties. Without it we cannot safely guarantee that we will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima.

New START vs. the Tea Party: What's the Greatest Threat?

Written by Don Kraus for the Huffington Post

What's more dangerous: the thousands of nukes that will still target U.S. and Russian cities if the New START treaty is not ratified OR the opportunistic, Tea Party pandering politicians who would derail this commonsense agreement?

If you answered "the nukes", you're wrong.

New START will reduce the global inventory of strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert to levels not seen since I was born in 1954. But these weapons are not nearly as dangerous as the obstructive "Cold War" messaging that treaty opponents are deploying to upset New START's ratification.

Seven former commanders of the Strategic Air Command and the U.S. Strategic Command who recently endorsed the pact said, "There is little concern today about the probability of a Russian nuclear attack." The terrorist bomb that takes out Washington or New York will most likely come in a shipping container rather than an ICBM.

The utility of New START is that it makes the world more predictable. It replaces the START treaty originally negotiated by President Reagan that expired last December. Like its predecessor, New START not only reduces the number of warheads, it assures that both nations "trust but verify" each other's compliance with the terms of the treaty. Ratification will send a strong message that the U.S. is seriously pursuing its nuclear disarmament obligations, giving it more credibility to demand that nations like Iran and North Korea not build nuclear weapons.

Misconceptions About Missile Defense: The Truth About the New START Treaty

As the hearings on the New START Treaty continue in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, support for the treaty has come from many sources, including the United States military. Gen. Kevin Chilton, U.S. Strategic Command Chief and the man responsible for the country's nuclear forces, presented both financial and tactical reasons for ratification. Without the treaty, U.S. insight into Russian nuclear capabilities would be severely limited. Guesstimates would replace concrete Intel, leading to one of two possibilities:

  • Under development: "It will be a security issue." By underestimating Russia's capabilities, the U.S. fails to develop necessary systems.   
  • Over development: "It would be a cost issue." By overestimating, the U.S. could end up pouring money into the development of capabilities that it does not require.

Considering the budgetary quagmire the U.S. is currently faces, we can ill afford an unnecessary and unwarranted spending spree.

Does this treaty endanger America's National Security?

But with a vocal minority up in arms over perceived limitations to missile defense, suspicion abounds that the New START treaty will critically hinder U.S. defenses. Are these concerns warranted? The answer is a resounding no, and it has been reiterated by steady stream of military officials and foreign policy experts from both political parties. During his testimony before the SFRC, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphatically noted, "The treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible nor impose additional costs or barriers on those defenses."

How Romney Got It Wrong: The Truth About the New START Treaty

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and failed presidential contender, now sets his sights on the 2012 election. He has decided the best way to secure the nomination is to ramp up the crazy.

Romney took to the Washington Post to decry the New START treaty currently making its way through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rather then add substantively to the debate, the former governor trotted out the same tired arguments that treaty opponents have been bleating since Senators Kerry and Lugar began hearings over two months ago. From Senator Inhofe and DeMint to the Heritage Foundation, Republicans focused on what they view as a glaring flaw in the treaty, missile defense. They claim the treaty will severely limit the development of a U.S. missile shield, and will signal to hostile powers that America lacks the will to defend itself. There's one problem with these claims: they are flat out wrong.

Romney's argument follows the rich tradition driving the Republican Party right now. The tea-partiers and other fringe groups require a certain level of cocksure militarism. Just look at McCain in 2008, with his impromptu hit song "Bomb Iran" set to the tune of the Beach Boy's "Barbara Ann." It evoked a jingoistic swagger that the Republican base ate up, akin to G.W. strutting on an aircraft carrier in his flight suit and codpiece. After all, what could be the harm in starting a third war with a far better equipped country while still hemorrhaging resources in America's two current wars?

Tell Me About the New START Treaty!

What is the New START treaty?

The New START treaty is a treaty that will, if ratified, "replace" the START treaty that was signed in 1991 and expired in 2009. Secretary Clinton stated today that the three goals of the START treaty are to promote stability, transparency and predictability between the U.S. and Russia on the topic of nuclear arms control.

Will the New START treaty cut the total number of nuclear weapons held by both the United States and Russia?

Yes. START will reduce the total number of nuclear weapons held both the United States and Russia. Essentially, START will place limits on the number of nuclear warheads and deployed nuclear delivery vehicles for both the United States and Russia. Each country will be permitted to have a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads and a maximum of 700 deployed nuclear delivery vehicles.

Will the New START treaty adversely affect our missile defense or compromise United States national security?

No. There is nothing in the treaty that will limit the United States ability to continue to cultivate the U.S. missile defense program. Additionally, the New START treaty will not compromise the United States ability to protect itself and does include a provision for a strong verification regime.

Will the New START treaty have any effect on Iran and North Korea?

An NPT Review Conference Update: Iran stirs up trouble, U.S. announces size of stockpile, and Indonesia ratifies the CTBT!

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference has just wrapped up its 3rd day in what has been a highly charged arena: the place of a showdown between the U.S. and Iran and historic announcements from the U.S. and Indonesia.

On the first day, President Ahmadinejad's deriding speech was met with sharp criticism from Secretary Clinton and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Iranian cooperation with the IAEA.  Ahmadinejad insists that nuclear developments have peaceful intentions, but there is good reason to suspect that this is not the case. Thus far, Iran has made more enemies than friends. This might even be an opportunity for President Obama to garner support for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran and strengthen the role of the IAEA in monitoring Iran's development of nuclear capabilities. Plus, with Iran in the spotlight, the divide between the nuclear haves and have-nots seems less stark.

Secretary Clinton spoke after Ahmadinejad, making the long-awaited announcement that the U.S. arsenal contains 5, 113 deployed warheads (as of September 2009). The U.S. has never before released this number. It is down from 31, 255 in 1967, when the U.S. nuclear arsenal was at its height. Still, some NGOs estimate that there are 4,600 in reserve.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Begins Monday - There is still time to sign the petition!

Monday May 3 will mark the beginning of the 8th Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, and 189 governments party to the treaty and hundreds of NGOs will flock to New York to discuss our world's greatest security concern - nuclear weapons. The stakes are high, with issues such as demands of disarmament and Iranian development of nuclear weapons topping the agenda. The last review conference, held five years ago, was such an abysmal failure that the pressure is strong on all parties to reach agreement on the many controversial issues.

Yesterday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the urgency of the Review Conference and some of the top considerations for the agenda. While stressing the importance of holding realistic expectations, Ban Ki-moon asserted that the opportunities presented by Review Conference must not fall by the wayside, especially on the topics of disarmament, non-proliferation, a nuclear weapons free-zone in the Middle East, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

In particular, Ban Ki-moon focused on the need for a serious and thorough consideration of disarmament. "The Earth's very future leaves us no alternative but to pursue disarmament," he said. "And there is little prospect of that without global cooperation."

If the Review Conference does not address the issue of disarmament, it is sacrificing an opportunity to start taking the necessary steps to make the world safer. The very real possibility of nuclear terrorism - highlighted in President Obama's recent Security Summit- reinforces the widespread relevance of the issue and underscores the necessity of international cooperation. "Nuclear terrorism is not a Hollywood fantasy," wrote Ban Ki-Moon. "It can happen."

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference: Sign a Petition Calling on President Obama to Take Action

"I state with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." ~President Obama, Prague Nuclear Security Speech, April 2009

The existence of nuclear weapons remains the greatest threat to life on earth.  Sign the petition and call on President Obama to make good on the commitment he declared in Prague one year ago.  Call on President Obama to initiate talks on an international agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons. Call on President Obama to work with international leaders to abolish nuclear weapons – within our lifetimes.

You can be a part of the over 5 million signatures that will be delivered to the White House and the United Nations in early May to coincide with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.  Click here to Sign the Petition Now.

In 1970, the NPT was created to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. But it is unequipped to deal with 21st century challenges, and the NPT alone cannot bring about a world free of nuclear weapons. The 8th Review Conference of the NPT (May 3-28, 2010) provides a key forum to initiate good faith talks on disarmament, and it is an opportunity for President Obama to publicly restate his commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons must be eliminated to ensure a safer future for generations to come. Unite with more than five million voices and urge President Obama to begin multilateral talks on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons.

More on the 2010 NPT Review Conference: