US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Opening Remarks on the New START Treaty Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
19 May 2010

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Well, Chairman Kerry and Senator Lugar and members of the committee, thank you for calling several hearings on the new START treaty and for this invitation to appear before you. We deeply appreciate your commitment to this critical issue. And I think both the Chairman and the Ranking Member’s opening statements made very clear what is at stake and how we must proceed in the consideration of this treaty in an expeditious manner.

It is a pleasure to testify along with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, because we share a strong belief that the new START treaty will make our country more secure. This treaty also reflects our growing cooperation with Russia on matters of mutual interest and it will aid us in advancing our broader nonproliferation agenda. To that end, we have been working closely with our P-5+1 partners for several weeks on the draft of a new sanctions resolution on Iran. And today, I am pleased to announce to this committee we have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China. We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today.

And let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide. There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran, and although we acknowledge the sincere efforts of both Turkey and Brazil to find a solution regarding Iran’s standoff with the international community over its nuclear program, the P-5+1, which consists, of course, of Russia, China, the United States, the UK, France, and Germany, along with the High Representative of the EU, are proceeding to rally the international community on behalf of a strong sanctions resolution that will, in our view, send an unmistakable message about what is expected from Iran.

We can certainly go into more detail about that during the Q&A. But let me turn to the matter at hand, because I think as convincingly as I can make the case for the many reasons why this new START treaty is in the interest of the national security of the United States of America, the relationship with Russia is a key part of that kind of security. And as Senator Lugar said in his opening remarks, during all the ups and downs, during the heights and the depths of the Cold War, one constant was our continuing efforts to work toward the elimination of and the curtailment of strategic arms in a way that built confidence and avoided miscalculation.

Now, some may argue that we don’t need the new START treaty. But the choice before us is between this treaty and no treaty governing our nuclear security relationship with Russia, between this treaty and no agreed verification mechanisms on Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, between this treaty and no legal obligation for Russia to maintain its strategic nuclear forces below an agreed level. And as Secretary Gates has pointed out, every previous president who faced this choice has found that the United States is better off with a treaty than without one, and the United States Senate has always agreed. The 2002 Moscow Treaty was approved by a vote of 95 to nothing. The 1991 START treaty was approved by 93 to 6.

More than two years ago, President Bush began the process that has led to the new START treaty that we are discussing today. Now, it, too, has already received bipartisan support in testimony before this committee. And as the Chairman and the Ranking Member acknowledged, former Secretary James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense for Presidents Nixon and Ford, Secretary of Energy for President Carter, declared that it is obligatory for the United States to ratify it.

Today, I’d like to discuss what the new START treaty is and what it isn’t. It 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. This is a level we have not reached 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 targets will help the United States and Russia bring our deployed strategic arsenals, which were sized for the Cold War, to levels that are appropriate