New START and Missile Defense: We Are 33 Minutes Away…

Weakening Our Missile Defense

  • America the Vulnerable: The threat from ballistic missile attack is real. This is why Americans need to pay attention to this issue now.
  • White House Already Cutting Missile Defense: President Obama scaled back the number of interceptors in the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System in Alaska and California from 44 to 30 and decided not to deploy 10 interceptors in Poland that would’ve provided protection against long-range Iranian missiles.These cuts reduce the missile interceptor force dedicated to protecting the U.S. homeland by 44%.

New START Leaves America Vulnerable

  • New START Treaty Weakens America’s Defense: It is evident that Russia seeks to curtail U.S. missile defense programs. New START is one of the tools to achieve this.
  • New START Restrictions: New START imposes restrictions on U.S. missile defense options through Article V of the treaty and additional provisions in the Protocol and Annexes. The Preamble also applies the logic that U.S. missile defenses must be reduced in accordance with the reduction of the strategic offensive arms of Russia because otherwise the defenses will “undermine the viability and effectiveness” of Russia’s offensive force.
  • Limiting U.S. Options and Sovereignty: The treaty restricts certain types of missiles and missile launchers that are used as targets in missile defense tests. The treaty also gives the Bilateral Consultative Commission, the treaty’s implementing body, a broad mandate that could permit it to impose additional restrictions on missile defenses.
  • Lame Duck Not the Time to Ratify Treaties: If the Administration and current Senate majority leadership push for a vote on New START during the “lame duck” session, the Senate will not have time to adequately evaluate it, especially newly seated Senators who need time to become educated on the treaty, exacerbating an already biased process in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  • White House Should Release Treaty Negotiating Record: The Administration has refused to give the Senate access to the record that includes all draft versions of the treaty, memoranda, notes, and communications between U.S. and Russian negotiators. The record is critical to clear up questions on key provisions in the treaty and how the Russians interpret them.
  • Other Bad Deals in the Works? Recent comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicate that Russia and the U.S. are negotiating a separate side agreement that will limit U.S. missile defense and space options even further.

Growing Threat

  • North Korea's Missiles Move Within Striking DistanceIran: Iran could have a nuclear weapon in as little as one to two years and an ICBM capable of threatening the U.S. by 2015 or sooner. A nuclear-armed Iran would be a game changer. Tehran would use its newfound leverage to intimidate neighbors and step up its sponsorship of terrorism.
  • North Korea: The extent of their nuclear weapons inventory is unknown, but Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests. North Korea has enough fissile material for eight to 12 plutonium-based nuclear weapons. North Korea is also continuing to pursue a parallel nuclear weapons program using highly enriched uranium. North Korea has 600 SCUD short-range ballistic missiles that threaten Japan and 100 No-Dong intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could hit U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam, and Pyongyang continues to develop the Taepodong intercontinental ballistic missile that, when fully developed, could reach the U.S. with a nuclear warhead.
  • 33 Minutes: As the threat of missiles launched from Iran, North Korea, or coalitions of hostile parties grows, so does the need for more robust defenses—particularly when no matter where on earth a missile is launched from, it would take 33 minutes or less to hit the U.S. target it was programmed to destroy.

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