Amidst all the hoopla over the Afghan war review yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he believes Congress now has the insight it needs to feel comfortable approving the latest START treaty.
"I think that there were some genuine concerns on the Hill, particularly on the republican side, but not exclusively on the republican side about the modernization of our nuclear enterprise and a reluctance to go forward on START without the assurances that the resources would be made available to" modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, said Gates during a White House press conference to discuss the Afghan war.
"I think that there were some misunderstandings, frankly, on missile defense, I hope that the testimony of the Joint Chiefs and General Cartwright who's expert in this area and, perhaps me to a lesser extent, have provided some reassurances to people that this treaty in no way limits anything we have in mind or want to do on missile defense."
He went on to say that any of the concerns and misunderstandings "have been addressed."
As expected, Gen. James Cartwright, all around nuclear missile expert and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, backed Gates up during the conference, saying that the treaty actually will make modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal easier.
"For me, all the Joint Chiefs are very much behind this treaty, because of the transparency, because of the reality that both the United States and Russia are going to have to recapitalize their nuclear arsenals, both the delivery vehicles and the weapons," said Cartwright. "To have transparency and to put structure to [the recapitalization] process, we need START and we need it badly."
The former STRATCOM chief added that the treaty puts "no prohibitions to our ability to move forward on missile defense, which gives us a much better deterrent when combined with the offensive side as we move to the future. A single mutually assured destruction approach to deterrence is just not relevant as we move into the 21st Century, we need this treaty in order to move in that direction."
This comes the same week some republicans are fighting to keep the Senate from ratifying the treaty before the end of the current lame-duck Congress. The treaty is currently being debated by the Senate. Some opponents claimed the it limited the U.S. with regards to missile defense. Now, they want more time to examine the treaty.