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Secretary Clinton’s Remarks: New Start Treaty at the Senate Armed Services Committee

June 17, 2010

The big question of the day- will the GOP obstruct this also given their whole political policy agenda can be summed up with one word: obstructionism. Or maybe three words: Tea Party nuttery. But that’s a can of worms I am not going to open up.

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Her opening remarks:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Chairman Levin, Senator McCain, members of the committee. It’s a great pleasure for me to return to testify before a committee that I was very honored to serve on. And we are here, today, Secretary Gates, Secretary Chu, and Admiral Mullen, and myself, because we share a strong belief that the new START treaty will make our country more secure and we urge the Senate to ratify it expeditiously.

Now, I know that some argue we don’t need a new START treaty. But let’s be clear about the choice before us. It is between this treaty and no obligation for Russia to keep its strategic nuclear forces below an agreed level, and between this treaty and no on-the-ground verification of Russia’s strategic forces. As Secretary Gates, and then as you, Chairman Levin have pointed out, every previous president of both parties who faced this choice has concluded that the United States is better off with a treaty than without one. And the United States Senate has always agreed.

More than two years ago, President Bush began this process that led to this treaty that we are discussing today. And the new START treaty has already received broad bipartisan endorsement. As James Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and the Secretary of Energy for President Carter, declared recently in his Congressional testimony, “It is obligatory for the United States to ratify.”

Now, why do so many people who have studied this issue over so many years coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum agree so strongly? Well, today, I’d like to discuss briefly what the new START treaty is and also what it is not. This is a treaty that, if ratified, will provide stability, transparency, and predictability for the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. It is a treaty that will reduce the permissible number of Russian and U.S. deployed strategic warheads to 1,550, a level not seen since the 1950s.

In addition, each country will be limited to 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles and 800 deployed and non-deployed strategic missile launchers and heavy bombers. These limits will help the United States and Russia bring our deployed strategic arsenals, which were sized for the Cold War, to levels that are more appropriate for today’s threats.

This is a treaty that will help us track remaining weapons with an extensive verification regime. Now, this regime draws upon our experience over the last 15 years in implementing the original START treaty. The verification provisions reflect today’s realities, including the much smaller number of facilities in Russia compared with the former Soviet Union. And for the first time, we will be monitoring the actual numbers of warheads on deployed strategic missiles.

So by bringing the new START treaty into force, we will strengthen our national security more broadly, including by creating greater leverage to tackle a core national security challenge – nuclear proliferation.

This will also demonstrate our leadership and strengthen our hand as we work with others to hold irresponsible governments accountable, whether in further isolating Iran and enforcing the rules against violators or in persuading other countries to implement better controls on their own nuclear materials.

And it makes clear that we are committed to real reductions and to upholding our end of the bargain under the Nonproliferation Treaty, which has already brought about important benefits in my discussions with foreign leaders about strengthening the nonproliferation regime and a range of other topics.

But I want to be also very clear that there are numerous things this treaty will not do. As Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen will discuss more fully, the new START treaty does not compromise the nuclear force levels we need to protect ourselves and our allies. It does not infringe upon the flexibility we need to maintain our forces, including bombers, submarines, and missiles in the way that best serves our own national security interests. This treaty does not constrain our missile defense efforts. And I want to underscore this because I know there have been a lot of concerns about it and I anticipate a lot of questions. But this is something this committee recently reiterated in the FY11 national defense authorization bill. Section 231 reads and I quote, “It is the sense of Congress that there are no constraints contained in the new START treaty on the development or deployment by the United States of effective missile defenses, including all phases of the phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe and further enhancements to the ground-based mid-course defense, as well as future missile defenses.”

Now, I worked with some of you on this committee when I had the honor of serving in the Senate on behalf of a very strong missile defense system, so I want to make this point very clearly. Now, Russia has, as the Chairman said, issued a unilateral statement expressing its view. But that is not an agreed-upon view. That is not in the treaty. It’s the equivalent of a press release. And we are not in any way bound by it. In fact, we’ve issued our own statement, which is now part of the record, making clear that the United States intends and, in fact, is continuing to improve and deploy effective missile defense systems. The treaty’s preamble does include language acknowledging the relationship between strategic offensive and defensive forces, but that’s simply a statement of fact. It, too, does not in any way constrain our missile defense programs.

Now, the treaty also includes language – and I think this is Senator McCain’s reference to Article 5 – prohibiting the conversion or use of offensive missile launchers for missile defense interceptors, and vice versa. But in fact, we had no intention of doing that anyway. And as General O’Reilly, our missile defense director, has made clear in testimony, we reached the conclusion it is actually cheaper to build smaller, tailor-made missile defense silos than to convert offensive launchers. I mean, we could have had a long list – we’re not going to launch from any moving vehicle like a car or a truck or a cow. I mean, we could have said a lot of things that we’re not going to do. But the fact is we weren’t going to do them and we weren’t going to do this either. And the treaty does not restrict us in any way from building new missile defense launchers, 14 of which are currently being constructed in Alaska. So I think the very facts on the ground undermine and refute any argument to the contrary.

Now, the Obama Administration has requested $9.9 billion for missile defense in FY11. That is almost $700 million more than Congress provided in FY10.

And finally, the new START treaty does not restrict our ability to modernize our nuclear weapons complex to maintain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent. As Secretary Chu will discuss, this Administration has called for a 10 percent increase in FY11 for overall weapons and infrastructure activities in a time of very serious budget constraints. And we’ve called for a 25 percent increase in direct stockpile work. During the next 10 years, this Administration proposes investing $80 billion in our nuclear weapons complex.

So let me just conclude by taking a step back and putting the new START treaty into a larger context. This treaty is one part of a broader effort to reduce the threat posed by the deadliest weapons the world has ever known, especially the potential intersection of violent extremism and nuclear proliferation. We have several coordinated efforts that have been briefed to this committee, including the Nuclear Posture Review, the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit, and the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, as well as extensive bilateral engagements.

So while a ratified new START treaty stands on its own terms, and when you look at the very real benefits it provides to our national security, it is part of a broader strategy. So Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, members of the committee, we stand ready to work with you as you undertake your constitutional responsibilities with respect to this treaty, and we are ready to answer any and all questions. And we hope that at the end of your deliberations, you will come to the same conclusion that we and many others have reached, including many others who have sat in these chairs and voted in the Senate chamber, that this treaty makes our country more secure and merits the Senate’s consent to ratification.

Thank you.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    June 17, 2010 6:45 pm

    I hope they do the right thing and ratify this treaty, and just a comment on one of the pictures, looks like Lieberman is beign nosy in the pictuer with mccain and hillary.

  2. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    June 17, 2010 11:50 pm

    Just viewed a most annoying Bloggingheads video exchange between Tim Noah of Slate and James Pinkerton of Fox News on the subject of “Hillary’s Next Post?” (comnenting on the rumors about her replacing Gates as Sec’y of Defense if/when he retires). I’m not going to dignify their snarky remarks by repeating them here, but was curious what folks here think about it. Stacy, forgive me if you already had a thread on this — if you did, I missed it.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      June 17, 2010 11:54 pm

      My own opinion, incidentallly, is that if offered the position, she should turn it down. Only problem is that Kerry might get the nod. Ug.

  3. June 18, 2010 5:18 am

    I actually had put up a post about it back when an article appeared on Politico by Ben Smith and I am not a big fan of the idea, but more for my own personal ideological reasons- I am not a hawk and the idea of her becoming the nation’s chief hawk doesn’t appeal to me, although I do realize that’s its not about what *I* want ;). But the fact that people are even talking about it is testament to the notion that on foreign policy and war, she really is quite hawkish and even conservative.

    I am a bit suspicious of all the rumors though- it seems like whenever someone wants to generate headlines for themselves they float the idea of Clinton becoming VP, Secy of Defense, what’s next? Ben Smith’s article relied very heavily on unnamed sources, as he usually does when it comes to Clinton, and so I tend to be suspicious of what he writes, particularly after he essentially started the whole “Hillary Clinton in the shadows” meme all those months ago when everyone was saying she had no power within the admin.

    As I’ve said before, I would respect whatever choice she made. If I had to choose I’d rather she did a switcheroo with Biden but if she’s not interested in that, I would totally understand. It sounds like she works about 20 hours a day and she’s pretty much been going non-stop for years, so even if she wanted to retire from public office/government service I would certainly understand and respect that too.

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:29 am

    I’d certainly respect and understand her wish to retire, but would have to put myself on antidepressants if it actually happened 😉

    • June 18, 2010 9:37 am

      Well, at least you *CAN* put yourself on antidepressants if need be ;). If she retires the rest of us will just have to self-medicate and obsess about the past.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        June 18, 2010 2:51 pm

        Yes, I estimate a massive influx of new patients — at least 18 million — if this comes to pass and am deveoping suitable diagnostic criteria for HRC Withdrawal Syndrome (an attenuated form of this syndrome briefly reached epidemic proportions in mid-2008, but was mercifully short-lived). Symptoms include:
        1) Irrational ruminations (“What she REALLY means is she’s not running in 2016 but waiting for 2020. In 2020, she’ll only be 72. Wasn’t McCain 72 when he ran?” etc.)
        2) obsessively Googling “Hillary Clinton” every morning even though person has already read everything ever written by or about her
        3) Repeated caimis of spotting Hillary look-alikes on the campaign trail (“No, I swear it was her — it was definitely her Presidential blue suit, the one she wore that time in England, and the foreign secretary couldn’t take his eyes off her, remember?”)
        4) Constant nearly inaudible
        incantation of, “Madame President, Madame President, Madame President…”
        5) maintaining a shrine of “Hillary” coffee mugs and those “P.U.M.A./18 million strong” wrist bands, and using them only on very special
        days, like October 26th, if ever.

        Signs of possible recovery include visiting new blogs like, “Chelsea 2024” but some of the faithful will
        mourn for the rest of their lives.

        These criteria are a work in progress, so any comments, additions, corrections would be welcome.

    • theprosecutrix permalink
      June 18, 2010 8:07 pm

      I’m afraid I’d have to sign myself up for a prescription. Your HRC Withdrawal Syndrome list is very funny.

      • June 19, 2010 8:56 am

        She may have to order a *lot* of prescription pads. And naturally, we will all expect her to call them in to our locally pharmacy after a brief internet/comment section therapy session.

  5. June 18, 2010 2:47 pm

    madam,hilary klinton your fired, the kitchen is good job for you,i´m a wetness of 9/11 ataks.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      June 18, 2010 2:56 pm

      …except comments like these. Sheesh.

  6. June 18, 2010 2:53 pm

    madam,hylary klinton your fired,becaus…it´s difecault job to represent enosent peopel,í´m a witness of 9/11 ataks

    • Steve permalink
      June 19, 2010 8:12 am

      Hey Khalid, grab hold of the reins. Your comment makes zero sense, even if it was spelled correctly (that’s not a jab at your English by the way, I admire anyone who at least tries to speak in multiple languages when most Americans can sometimes barely speak in one.)

  7. June 19, 2010 8:54 am

    Not to mention if she retires, what the heck do I do with this blog?

  8. Pcfs permalink
    June 19, 2010 9:51 am

    Stacy, If she retires we all are going to need help with depression. I believe she will be in the mix somewhere. Maybe to help her husband with the Clinton Foundation. Who knows really. But she often has talked about doing what life’s path takes you and never knowing where the journey may end up. Anyway, we all going to need each other and thank God you are all here to be supportive of one another.

  9. Citizens for global solutions permalink
    June 25, 2010 11:21 am

    Want to get more info on the progress of the Treaty? Looking to delve deeper into the issues? From live blogging Senate Hearings to action alerts, get the latest updates on the New START Treaty and join the discussion at the New START Treaty. Sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions .

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