The Historical and Modern Context for U.S.-Russian Arms Control

Statement of William J. Perry regarding submission of the New START for consent and ratification

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

April 29, 2010

Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Lugar, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and other members of this distinguished Committee to discuss ratification for the New START Treaty.

I would like to start my testimony by offering you five judgments about the New START Treaty.

  1. The reduction of deployed warheads entailed by the treaty is modest, but the treaty is a clear signal that the United States is serious about carrying out our responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and will be welcomed as a positive step by the other members of that Treaty.
  2. The treaty imposes no meaningful restraints on our ability to develop and deploy ballistic missile defense systems, or our ability to modernize our nuclear deterrence forces.
  3. The treaty does not affect our ability to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent, as specified by DOD planners in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.
  4. The treaty is a valuable confidence-building measure in that it provides for a vitally important continuing dialog between the US and Russia on strategic nuclear weapons.
  5. The treaty improves strategic stability between the United States and Russia by requiring both nations to provide transparency and accountability in the management of their strategic nuclear forces.
    Based on these judgments, I recommend that the Senate consent to the ratification of this treaty.

I would like to add further comments concerning some details of the treaty.
The New START treaty limits deployed, strategic systems to an aggregate of 1550 warheads. These include warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs. Heavy bombers count as a single warhead toward these limits. Further, the treaty creates ceilings on the number of deployed and non-deployed strategic delivery platforms. Each nation
retains the ability to determine the composition of their forces within these numbers. While the actual number of nuclear weapons available for upload on deployed bombers are not counted, this unusual "counting rule" is essentially equivalent between the United States and Russia. In my opinion, this aspect of the treaty would not put the United States at any disadvantage.

The focus of this treaty is on deployed warheads and it does not attempt to count or control non-deployed warheads. This continues in the tradition of prior arms control treaties. I would hope to see non-deployed and tactical systems included in future negotiations, but the absence of these systems should not detract from the merits of this treaty and the further advances in arms control which it represents.

The transparency and verification regime in this treaty builds upon the successful procedures and methods from the prior START treaty. Declarations of the number and locale of deployed missiles will be made upon entry into force, and an inspection regime allows short-notice access to ensure compliance. Technical aspects of the treaty include establishment of unique identifiers for each missile and heavy bomber and their locations, an important advance, which further enhances inspection and verification. Missile tests continue to be monitored, and the exchange of telemetry data is provided. While telemetry is not necessary for verification of this treaty or for our security interests, the continued exchange of telemetry is in our joint interest as a further confidence-building measure.

Two important questions arise in the evaluation of this treaty. They are whether the treaty constrains the United States' ability to modernize its nuclear deterrent and infrastructure and whether the treaty constrains ballistic missile defenses. The treaty directly addresses this first question. Article V of the treaty states "modernization and replacement of strategic offensive arms may be carried out". The Congressional Commission on Nuclear Forces noted that our nuclear weapons complex was in need of improvement. The President's FY11 budget submission proposes substantial increases to the nuclear weapons program for just this purpose. The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review elaborates upon this need in detail. The administration has been consistent in its statements and proposals on this point, all of which support upgrade and improvement of the nuclear weapons complex, including the replacement of key facilities for handling of nuclear materials. The New START Treaty does not inhibit any of these plans or programs.

The development of Ballistic Missile Defense is similarly unconstrained by this treaty. The preamble notes an interrelation between strategic offensive and defensive arms and the importance of a balance between them, but imposes no limits on further development of missile defenses. Indeed, this treaty modestly enhances the ability to develop missile defenses, in that retired strategic missiles required for development of BMD are no longer constrained under the terms of New START. Further, ballistic missile interceptors are specifically excluded from the definition of ballistic missiles under this treaty. The treaty does prohibit the conversion of ICBM launchers for missile defense purposes. We do not, in fact, plan to do so, so this limitation will have no practical impact on our BMD systems.

Mr. Chairman, the New START Treaty is a positive step in U.S.-Russia arms negotiations. This treaty establishes a ceiling on strategic arms while allowing the United States to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. This treaty does not limit America's ability to structure its offensive arsenal to meet current or future threats, nor does it prevent the future modernization of the American nuclear arsenal. Additionally, the treaty puts no meaningful limits our Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense program, and in fact it reduces restrictions that existed under the previous START treaty. I recommend ratification.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I welcome your questions regarding the New START Treaty.