Even if the ratification vote on the New START treaty happens this year (as the White House wants) as opposed to next year (as GOP leadership is pushing for) there are some senior senators who are flat out opposed to the agreement, including Senate Intelligence Committee ranking Republican Kit Bond (R-MO).
"I rise today to express my strong opposition to the administration's New START Treaty," Bond said in a statement submitted to the Congressional Record on Nov. 18. "I do so after great deliberation and after initial disposition to support the treaty because of the generic importance of these types of treaties for our Nation. But with what I have learned from classified intelligence information, I cannot in good conscience support this treaty."
Calling the treaty "oversold and overhyped," Bond argued that while the U.S. would have to reduce deployed arsenals under the treaty, the Russian would be allowed to increase arsenals because they are currently below the treaty's maximum allowances. He also railed against Russia's unilateral declaration that it would withdraw from the treaty if they view U.S. missile defense plans as upseting strategic stability, calling the Russian statement "pure and simple manipulation."
Most significantly, Bond claims that based on classified intelligence reports that he's seen, the treaty does not permit adequate verification activities needed to make sure the Russians aren't cheating. All verification activities have stopped since the old treaty expired Dec. 5, but the new proposed verification measures are somewhat different from the ones that lapsed.
"As the vice chairman of this committee, I have reviewed the key intelligence on our ability to monitor this treaty and heard from our intelligence professionals. There is no doubt in my mind that the United States cannot reliably verify the treaty's 1,550 limit on deployed warheads," he said.
He accused the Russians of cheating on previous arms control treaties, including the original START, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and Open Skies. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," he said.
Other senior Republicans, such as Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have said repeatedly that they are not against the treaty but have concerns that they want to work out before they can offer support. Bond, however, made it clear: As far as he's concerned, the treaty is beyond repair.
"Unfortunately, New START suffers from fundamental flaws that no amount of tinkering around the edges can fix. I believe the better course for our nation, and for global stability, is to put this treaty aside and replace it with a better one."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.