Consensus is clear: Ratify New START now
By Dirk JamesonAs the former commander of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force, I waspersonally responsible for making sure that the hundreds of land-based missiles, each carrying asmany as 10 warheads, stayed on alert and ready to launch against targets halfway around theworld at a moment's notice, if deterrence failed.Working at the sharp end of the nuclear spear taught me to respect the skill and wisdom neededto prevent a nuclear confrontation. It made me a strong believer in the kind of tough, pragmaticarms control diplomacy that President Reagan practiced to reach the first Strategic Arms
Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia in l981, when he said we should "trust, but verify." For a
military commander, arms control aggressively negotiated and constantly verified is just smartsecurity.Unfortunately, we now risk turning our backs on Reagan's warning.
It has been more than 250 days and counting since the U.S. lost access to the critical intelligencewe get from on-site inspections of Russia's nuclear arsenal. In fact, these critical verificationprocedures will cease altogether unless the Senate acts to ratify the New START Treaty. Withoutprompt Senate action, American national security will be at risk.
What New START does
The treaty, which was signed in April of this year, will assure stability and predictability betweenthe world's two leading nuclear powers, including strict verification measures that permit U.S.inspectors on the ground to monitor Russia's nuclear forces. Its importance to our nationalsecurity has prompted seven former commanders of United States Strategic Command(STRATCOM), the entity in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, to call for the treaty's immediateratification.