Senators Seek ‘Secret’ Missile Defense Docs
Are the U.S. and Russia working on a secret missile defense agreement outside of the new START? That’s what six Republican senators want to know. Specifically, they want assurance that any missile defense agreement won’t limit development or deployment of U.S. or allied missile defense.
Citing various sources that such talks are taking place, the six requested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turn over documents and transcripts related to the talks. An excerpt from the Washington Times:
“The group of senators, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, suggested in the letter that a failure to provide the documents could affect the upcoming Senate debate on the ratification of the New START, the strategic arms treaty with Russia signed in April.
“‘Senators must be assured that these talks and potential missile defense agreements will not limit U.S. and allied missile defense development and deployment in any fashion whatsoever,’ they stated.
“The senators also stated that, under Section 33 of the 1961 Arms Control and Disarmament Act, the administration cannot limit missile defenses with the Russians without following rules for treaties outlined in the law.
“State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in response to the letter that ‘we are not pursuing a missile defense agreement with Russia.’
“A classified U.S.-Russia joint assessment of ballistic missile ‘challenges’ should be completed by the end of the year that will ‘analyze the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century,’ Mr. Crowley said, noting that it ‘will not affect our ballistic missile defense policy, which is a response to the evolving threat we see from the Middle East and Northeast Asia.’”
“‘The purpose of the joint assessment is to increase our mutual understanding of the ballistic missile threat,’ Mr. Crowley said. ‘There is nothing in these discussions that contemplates limits on missile defense, but rather cooperation between the U.S. and Russia.’”
The State Department officially denies that the U.S. and the former Soviet Union are on working on a missile defense agreement, but the senators aren’t convinced. As they deliberate on whether to ratify START, they’ve requested the negotiating transcript, which the administration so far has refused to provide. Their suspicion about secret missile defense talks is warranted.