Eight Problems with the New START
The Senate should not ratify the treaty until they are resolved.


6. Contrary to our long-held policy objectives, New START gives Russia an incentive to MIRV its weapons — that is, equip single ballistic missiles to deliver warheads to different targets. START I, on the other hand, limited the weight of ballistic missiles as well as MIRV testing and deployment, and by doing so significantly restrained MIRVing. Because all these limits are absent in New START, virtually the entire Russian nuclear-missile arsenal could be MIRVed. This would reverse decades of progress toward reducing highly MIRVed ICBMs and could lead to questions about Russian compliance with the treaty’s stated nuclear-weapon limit.

7. The New START verification program is inadequate. Examples are numerous. Whereas under prior treaties, the destruction of every Russian mobile ICBM and launcher could be witnessed by an American observer, under New START we are permitted to inspect only half of the debris of destroyed ICBMs. Another example: Russia is required to provide telemetry data on ballistic flight tests for only five missiles, not all of them. Telemetry data is used by the United States to calculate the number of reentry vehicles or warheads the Russian missiles can carry. Russia can now select telemetry from only its old missile programs for American eyes. And Russia has a host of new missile programs under way, about which we could be entirely blind. Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation from 2002 to 2009, is highly critical of New START’s verification provisions, noting that these are particularly important because the Russians “have violated every agreement we have ever had with them.”

8. Russia has succeeded in restricting not only our strategic nuclear capacity and missile-defense program but also our strategic conventional capability. Any of our existing land- or submarine-based launchers fitted with conventional weapons would count toward New START’s launcher limits. Assuming that we will reserve some of these launchers for conventional weapons, our number of strategic nuclear launchers will actually have to be lower than the treaty’s ceiling.

Such conventional weapons give us the capability to strike time-urgent targets with high-explosive warheads. If the Clinton administration had had such a system in 1998, it could have launched a single conventionally armed ICBM that would have reached Osama bin Laden in less than 30 minutes. Instead, it launched sea-based cruise missiles, which took hours to reach their target — during which time bin Laden departed the target area.


New START is a major victory for Russia. One treaty observer, having completed a line-by-line analysis of the agreement, concluded that every single provision favors Russia or is neutral; not one favors the United States.

Like most Americans, I believe that the world would be safer if there were no weapons of mass destruction. But I also believe that the world is safer if America is strong. In fact, the stronger we are relative to nations like Russia, the safer the world is.

I also believe that missile defense is an urgent priority that we must not allow to be restricted.

New START, as currently drafted, should not be approved by the Senate.

— Mitt Romney was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and is a former governor of Massachusetts.






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