START ‘cheat­ing’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate are gear­ing up to bat­tle the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over the high-pri­or­ity plan to fin­ish a new arm­scon­trol treaty with Rus­sia be­fore the end of the year.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Ari­zona Repub­li­can and No. 2 Repub­li­can Se­nate leader, re­cently iden­ti­fied a key is­sue that is likely to com­pli­cate the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan: Rus­sia for years has been vi­o­lat­ing the cur­rent Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (START), which is set to ex­pire Dec. 5.

Mr. Kyl said in a Se­nate floor speech Oct. 19 that Rus­sia’s de­vel­op­ment of a new mul­ti­ple-war­head RS-24 mis­sile that was tested as re­cently as May 2007 vi­o­lates the cur­rent treaty.

“That would be il­le­gal for the Rus­sians to de­ploy un­der START. So why are they test­ing it?” Mr. Kyl asked.

“In this case, it ap­pears the Rus­sians have cheated — if not in the let­ter of the START agree­ment, at least in its spirit — by con­vert­ing one of their ex­ist­ing mis­siles, the Topol-M, to this new mul­ti­ple-war­head vari­ant,” he said. The new mis­sile is also known as the SS-27 by the Pen­tagon.

The ar­gu­ment of Mr. Kyl and oth­ers con­cerned with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rush to con­clude a new treaty is over how a new agree­ment can be reached when there is ev­i­dence that the Rus­sians failed to abide by the old one.

How­ever, Richard R. Verma, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for leg­isla­tive af­fairs, stated in a Oct. 5 let­ter to Mr. Kyl that he could not an­swer many ques­tions posed by the se­na­tor be­cause of on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions in Geneva.

Mr. Verma stated that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has “com­mit­ted our­selves fully” to fin­ish­ing a new treaty by Dec. 5. “If a fol­low-on treaty can­not be con­cluded by De­cem­ber, the United States and Rus­sia will need to find a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able means to con­tinue es­sen­tial ver­i­fi­ca­tion and trans­parency mea­sures un­til a new treaty en­ters into force,” he said, not­ing that a five-year ex­ten­sion of the old treaty is not likely.

Rus­sian Em­bassy press spokesman Ye­geni Kho­r­ishko said: “The Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion is act­ing in full con­form­ity with the pro­vi­sions of the START treaty.”

The se­na­tor’s charge of treaty vi­o­la­tions is backed up by a 2005 an­nual re­port to Congress by the State Depart­ment’s bureau of ver­i­fi­ca­tion and com­pli­ance which states that “a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of long­stand­ing com­pli­ance is­sues that have been raised in the START Treaty’s Joint Com­pli­ance and In­spec­tion Com­mis­sion re­main un­re­solved.”

Mr. Kyl is de­mand­ing that the ad­min­is­tra­tion tell the Se­nate if the Rus­sian vi­o­la­tions con­tin­ued af­ter 2005, or have been re­solved, and also why no sub­se­quent com­pli­ance re­ports were made pub­lic.

He also wants to know if the new agree­ment will be sub­mit­ted to the Se­nate, which has the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment to ap­prove all treaties.

Ei­ther way, Mr. Kyl said it ap­pears un­likely the United States and Rus­sia will con­clude a new treaty lim­it­ing U.S. nu­clear war­heads by the time the 1991 pact ex­pires.

Rus­sia has been de­mand­ing that the United States in­clude mis­sile de­fenses and con­ven­tional prompt-global-strike sys­tems in the new agree­ment, some­thing the ad­min­is­tra­tion so far has re­fused.

Paula A. DeSut­ter, the for­mer as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for ver­i­fi­ca­tion and com­pli­ance, who stepped down in Jan­uary, told In­side the Ring that Rus­sian non­com­pli­ance with START con­tin­ued af­ter 2005.

“The more re­cent com­pli­ance re­port, when it does go to the Se­nate and House, will be dis­turb­ing in a lot of ways be­cause Rus­sia con­tin­ues to be in vi­o­la­tion of the START treaty,” said Ms. DeSut­ter, who helped write post2005 re­ports.

Be­tween 2005 and 2009, the Rus­sians have “be­come more co­op­er­a­tive with re­gard to re-en­try ve­hi­cle on-site in­spec­tion,” she said. How­ever, “they re­main in non­com­pli­ance on a whole range of START treaty is­sues.”

On the new mis­sile, Ms. DeSut­ter said the Rus­sian mil­i­tary has con­ducted tests of the RS-24 that demon­strated the ca­pa­bil­ity of car­ry­ing three mul­ti­ple-in­de­pen­dently tar­getable (MIRV) war­heads, but without ac­tu­ally putting dummy war­heads on the test mis­sile.

A Se­nate Repub­li­can aide said the Rus­sians have been de­vel­op­ing the new mis­sile in se­cret for years. “Es­sen­tially what’s hap­pen­ing is they’ve got a mis­sile ready to field as soon as START ex­pires,” said the aide who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he is not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly.

State Depart­ment spokesman P.J. Crow­ley said the com­plex START treaty has been in force for 15 years and “some ques­tions about im­ple­men­ta­tion have arisen on both sides.”

“The United States and Rus­sia have been work­ing hard to clear up START com­pli­ance ques­tions be­fore the treaty goes out of force,” he said.

Over­all, how­ever, gen­eral im­ple­men­ta­tion of the treaty was “a suc­cess” and con­trib­uted to U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity, while as­sist­ing in un­der­stand­ing Rus­sian forces.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing hard to com­plete the 2009 com­pli­ance re­port, in­cor­po­rat­ing in­for­ma­tion from 2006, 2007 and 2008, when the re­port was not pro­duced,” he said. “We will cer­tainly be brief­ing the Se­nate on it when it is com­pleted.”

Mr. Crow­ley said the ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing on op­tions for deal­ing with the in­terim be­tween treaties. “But our fo­cus is on get­ting the new treaty fin­ished.” He did not elab­o­rate.

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