This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia’s arsenal… when the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk. There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia which only hurts our national security interests. Our ability to know and understand changes in Russia’s nuclear arsenal will erode without the treaty. As time passes, uncertainty will increase. With uncertainty comes unpredictability, which, when you’re dealing with nuclear weapons, is absolutely a problem that must be addressed. Ratifying the new START treaty will prevent that outcome.
If Senate Republicans are concerned about Russian intentions, as they claim, then they should vote for — not against — this treaty. This is because without a New START treaty in place our military will have no idea what the Russians are doing with their nuclear arsenal. Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association notes that:
For 250 days since START I expired there has been no verification system in place… Until New START is approved by the Senate, the United States will rapidly lose insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, forcing both sides to engage in more costly force modernization and hedging strategies.
This loss of intelligence and confidence is critical. With both the US and Russia having nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert and able to destroy all major cities and kill millions of people in 30 minutes, it is an extremely bad idea to have a situation in which both sides become uncertain about the nuclear intentions of the other. On top of that it is also clear that relations with Russia will plummet if START is not ratified. The reset will be collapse and as both militaries lose confidence in their intelligence of the other, skepticism about intentions and motives will only increase. If the GOP kills new START it will quite likely put US-Russia relations on an increasingly dangerous downward spiral.
We don’t worry about nuclear war very much anymore, but should this treaty fail to be ratified the chances of the unthinkable happening — intentionally or accidentally — increase. Now this doesn’t mean that nuclear war is inevitable or even likely. But extremely unlikely events happen all the time. No one would have predicted that the biggest story of the year would be a massive oil spill in the Gulf. This point clearly comes across in the new documentary film Countdown to Zero:
Now it says something about the myopic recklessness of Senators like Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, and Bob Corker who are willing to endanger nuclear stability and US national security just to either deny President Obama a “victory” or to get more nuclear pork for their home state.