Kyl’s START Hypocrisy

kyl_175x258shklSenate Republicans exposed their strategy to kill the new START treaty: procrastinate and then blame the other guys. The Cable reports that Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), are cynically preparing to unleash a wave of attacks that warn of the dangers that will occur when the original START treaty expires on December 5th.

Kyl claims to be shocked, shocked! – that the START treaty is about to expire. Kyl said in a floor statement this week (pdf):

Mr. President, I don’t say this lightly, but, this borders on malpractice.

Kyl goes on to argue that this will leave all the verification procedures up in the air and will allow the Russians to cheat on the treaty. But by making this argument Kyl has either miraculously seen the light on the value of arms control treaties or he is simply one of the biggest hypocrites in the Senate. After doing nothing for eight years to advance a new START treaty, it takes some real chutzpah for Kyl to attack the Administration for not getting a treaty done in eight months.

By warning of the dangers when the Treaty expires, Kyl is actually making an argument for ratifying a new START treaty right away. If the treaty expires and no new treaty is ratified in the Senate, the Russians will be able to do whatever they want with their nuclear arsenal. Yet, Kyl has not committed to supporting a new treaty and many conservatives like Kyl have consistently lambasted arms control treaties in general, arguing that they make us weaker by constraining our nuclear arsenal. So it is rather duplicitous that with START about to expire, Kyl suddenly finds enough religion on arms control to argue how unconscionable it will be if there is no treaty in place.

In fact, Kyl makes the amazing claim that:

only recently has verification gotten the attention it deserved all along.

This is pretty shocking coming from Kyl, since he never seemed to care much about verification before Obama was in the White House. During Bush administration negotiations over another arms control treaty – the 2002 SORT treaty – Senate Republicans expressed little concern that the treaty had few verification measures in place. Arms Control Today writing in 2005 explained that the Bush administration had a “casual” approach to verification and “did not negotiate any verification measures for the treaty because it claimed to have confidence that Moscow would limit its warheads by the treaty’s terms.” Kingston Rief added, “It’s telling that some of the same conservatives who supported the SORT approach are now accusing the Obama administration of being weak on verification.”

If the START treaty were to expire, it would allow the Russians to tinker and adjust their nuclear arsenal in violation of the spirit of the treaty. This is exactly why the Administration is in the midst of negotiating an interim bridging agreement.