Skip to content

Risch Opposes START Treaty

Says Senate Missed Opportunity to Improve Accord

December 22, 2010

Washington, DC – Citing one-sided negotiations and an unwillingness by the majority to address key security issues, U.S. Senator Jim Risch today voted against ratification of the START treaty between the United States and Russia.

“The debate on this treaty, first in the Foreign Relations Committee and then on the Senate Floor, has largely been a façade. Amendments were debated, but proponents of the Treaty cared more about appeasing the Russians than what is in the best interest of U.S. security and the American people,” said Risch. “If the Senate is to take seriously its advice and consent role on treaties, which I do, we should not rubber stamp a treaty for any president simply to have a better relationship with Russia.”

Risch was highly involved in the debate over inspection and verification to ensure the Russians are not cheating on the treaty and supported several amendments to address this issue. He also supported removing the linkage of offensive and defensive weapons from the preamble of the treaty, enabling the U.S. to fully pursue a missile defense system capable of shooting down incoming missiles launched by rogue nations. Both efforts were voted down.

Risch also offered four amendments in the Foreign Relations Committee and two on the Senate floor to address a number of issues including missile defense, conventional prompt global strike, modernization of U.S. delivery vehicles, and tactical nuclear weapons. While there was little substantive opposition to the Risch amendments, proponents argued these amendments would be “treaty killers”, because they would require action by Russia.

The Risch amendments would have specifically addressed the following areas of the treaty:

  • Required certification from the President that he would fully develop and deploy all phases of the U.S. missile defense plan that he laid out in February 2010.
  • Included tactical weapons that are capable of carrying nuclear payloads over a short range. Currently the Russians have a 10 to 1 advantage over the U.S. in the numbers of these weapons, yet the treaty fails to address them.
  • Provide sufficient resources to modernize both America’s nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles. Current funding levels do not provide adequate levels for upgrading all areas.
  • Ensure that conventional prompt global strike weapons, which the U.S. is developing to deliver a non-nuclear strike anywhere in the world, cannot be discussed in future negotiations of this nuclear arms treaty.

“It is unfortunate this treaty embraces an outdated 20th century Cold War style of arms control, while ignoring the flexibility needed for the threats America must confront now and in the future,” said Senator Risch. “I am disappointed by the passage of the New START Treaty. This treaty remains deeply flawed despite many efforts to improve it. We have missed a great chance to strengthen this agreement simply because its supporters refused to accept even the smallest changes necessary to protect U.S. national security.”

Further information on Risch’s concerns with the treaty is outlined in the minority views of the treaty report.