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On Tuesday [June 4], the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces debated the draft Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

It voted out, on party lines, language that prohibits deployment of a low-yield warhead on the Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile.  That makes sense:  The rationale for the warhead is dubious, and the weapon likely would never be selected for use.

Read the rest at The Hill

 

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This piece originally appeared at Brookings.

 

 

The Trump administration has finished off the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a treaty mortally wounded by Russia’s deployment of a banned intermediate-range missile. That leaves the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) as the sole agreement limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear forces.

New START has less than two years to run. At the February 15-16 Munich Security Conference, a senior Russian official reiterated Moscow’s readiness to extend the treaty. The administration, however, continues its odd reluctance to take up that offer. House Democrats should use their power of the purse on the issue.

WHY EXTENSION MAKES SENSE

Signed in 2010, New START limits the United States and Russia each to no more than 700 strategic ballistic missiles and bombers, and no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. Those limits took full effect in February 2018. Both sides have complied, although technical questions have arisen. Russian officials question the way in which the U.S. military converted some launchers so that they would not count.

By its terms, New START runs until February 5, 2021. It can be extended for up to five years by simple agreement between the U.S. and Russian presidents.

When asked about extension in 2017, administration officials said they would wait to complete the nuclear posture review and to see if the Russians met the New START limits. Both of those boxes were checked more than a year ago. Administration officials now say they are studying extension but see no need to rush.

New START extension is in the U.S. interest.

First, extension would constrain Russian strategic nuclear forces until 2026. It makes little sense to let the treaty lapse in 2021, when Russia has hot production lines churning out new missiles, submarines, and bombers.

Second, New START extension would not impact U.S. strategic modernization plans. They are sized to fit within New START’s limits. Moreover, the United States will not start producing significant numbers of replacement missiles, submarines, and bombers until the second half of the 2020s.

Third, extension would continue the flow of information that the sides share with each other about their strategic forces. That comes from data exchanges, notifications, on-site inspections and other verification measures, all of which end if New START lapses. Making up for that loss of information would require a costly investment in new national technical means such as reconnaissance satellites.

WHY WE SHOULD WORRY

Extension should be a no-brainer. However, in a White House that operates on its own facts and at times with an indecipherable logic, extension is not a given.

President Trump does not seem to understand much about nuclear arms control. During his first telephone conversation with President Putin, Trump reportedly dismissed New START as a bad deal done by his predecessor. He has taken delight in undoing the accomplishments of President Obama (witness the Iran nuclear accord).

National Security Advisor Bolton shows disdain for arms control and has criticized New START. One of its faults, according to Mr. Bolton: It provides for equal limits on the United States and Russia. He felt the treaty should allow the U.S. military to have more. (U.S. diplomats would have had an interesting time trying to negotiate that.) Asked about New START extension, Mr. Bolton notes two alternatives: renegotiation and a new treaty modeled on the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).

Renegotiation would allow U.S. officials to try to improve New START, perhaps with more intrusive verification measures, or even broadening the agreement to cover non-strategic nuclear weapons. Moscow, however, would seek changes as well, such as constraints on missile defenses—anathema to Washington.

Renegotiation would prove difficult, take considerable time, and have at best uncertain prospects for success. A wiser course would extend New START and then seek a renegotiation or a new follow-on treaty.

As for SORT, negotiated by Mr. Bolton, it limited deployed warheads only. Mr. Putin accepted that in 2002, but Russian officials have long since made clear that limits should apply to warheads and delivery vehicles, as they do in New START.

SORT, moreover, was “sort of” arms control. Lacking agreed definitions, counting rules or monitoring measures, it was unverifiable. In doing their own counts on the honor system, the U.S. and Russian militaries may not have even counted the same things.

Neither Secretary of State Pompeo nor Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has shown interest in championing New START. The uniformed military leadership argued the treaty’s value in the past, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford recently has hedged.

While ratification of a treaty requires consent from two-thirds of the Senate, the president alone can decide to leave a treaty. The Trump administration did not consult with either Congress or allies on withdrawal before Trump announced his intention to pull out of the treaty last October.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS TO THE RESCUE?

While the Trump administration shows little interest in arms control, it does want funding to modernize U.S. strategic forces. Democrats should recognize that and force the White House’s hand.

The U.S. strategic triad is aging. Ballistic missile submarines are the leg of the triad most in need of urgent replacement. They should be funded. Replacing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or building the B-21 bomber, however, are less urgent needs. As they work on the appropriations for the 2020 defense budget, House Democrats should make clear to the White House and the Pentagon that money for ICBM modernization or the B-21 would need to be paired with extension of New START. That will get attention.

Retaining a strategic triad makes sense (though the need for 400 deployed ICBMs is debatable). Retaining New START makes sense as well. House Democrats should simply insist on a trade.

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After an American hostage was mistakenly killed in a CIA drone strike, Stanford historian Priya Satia argues that oversight of and attitudes toward the drone program should be examined in light of continuing civilian deaths in the AfPak region in the April 30, 2015 edition of The Huffington Post.

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Dominique Struye de Swielande became ambassador of Belgium to the United States on December 29, 2006. Ambassador Struye previously served as Belgium's permanent representative to NATO (2002-06), ambassador to Germany (1997-2002), head of cabinet for the state secretary for international cooperation (1995-96), and director-general for administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994-95). In addition, Ambassador Struye was diplomatic counselor and deputy head of cabinet for the prime minister (1992-94), head of cabinet for the minister of foreign affairs (1991-92), director of the European Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990), deputy permanent representative and consul general to the United Nations in Geneva (1987-90), as well as counselor in the cabinet of the foreign affairs minister (1984-87). He has also served postings in Zaire, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Austria.

Ambassador Struye, who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, holds a doctorate in law from the Catholic University of Leuven, a master's of law from the University College London, and a master's of European Law from the University of Ghent.

 

Event Synopsis:

Ambassador Struye describes the difficulty in defining common security interests between Europe, where ideas of security tend to revolve around individual welfare provided by the state, and the United States, where international terrorism is viewed as the predominant security threat especially after 9/11.

Ambassador Struye then describes three major multilateral institutions and their role in global security: the UN, NATO, and EU. He outlines how the UN has expanded in recent years, both in terms of membership and of issue areas. Belgium has been actively involved in security discussions within the UN, and has shared the disappointment of the US about the limited capacity of the UN to contribute to peace and security in the world. He then addresses NATO's recent evolution in the direction of "out of area" policy, influenced by American pressure for NATO to become a security provider outside of Europe, including as an "instrument of democratization." Finally, Ambassador Struye describes the development of political mechanisms of the European Union which are now moving toward building common foreign and security policy, which the ambassador sees as important even without a European military force.

The ambassador details several challenges, including the difficulty  of evaluating common threats, determining how global a regional organization should be in its policy and how each organization should relate to the others, and a lack of a coherent global vision for how the world should evolve. Two policy areas where Ambassador Struye sees consensus are Afghanistan and missile defense. He concludes that although security policy is hard to define across regions, multilateral organizations are essential and the transatlantic alliance remains indispensable.

A discussion session following the talk included such issues as whether Turkey should be a member of the EU given its UN and NATO membership, how the ambassador views prospects for relations between North Africa and the multilateral institutions he describes, whether sufficient development funding should be available before military interventions in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and whether the EU might come to serve as a world power in its own right.

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Conference Room

Dominique Struye de Swielande Ambassador of Belgium to the United States Speaker
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