Harold Hutchison / February 6, 2018

Staying With New START Is a Sucker’s Bet

Russian cheating on the deal warrants rethinking it. The good news is that’s already begun.

Recently, the State Department issued a fact sheet on implementation of the New START Treaty. It entered into force in 2011, and since then, the world situation has changed. Russia and the United States are frenemies at best.

Adding to this is the undeniable fact that Russia’s treaty compliance is open for debate, to put it mildly. These alleged violations have been so blatant, even National Public Radio cannot ignore them, and Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to develop a new ground-launched cruise missile to replace the systems America scrapped in the 1990s after signing the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The deployment of the SS-26 Stone is one such violation, and these have prompted Secretary of Defense James Mattis to call out Russia. So, since it is a safe bet that the Russians are cheating on the treaties, what is to be done?

The good news is that unlike the 1930s, when isolationism held sway and prevented a timely response to Japan’s violations of naval arms limitation treaties, the United States is responding in a decisive fashion to the violations. The development of a new ground-launched cruise missile (really, it could be as simple as re-constructing the old BGM-109G Gryphon system) is a start. But Trump can do more.

Some options could include:

  • Deploying the BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Nuclear on attack subs and the Ohio-class SSGNs
  • Restoring the nuclear capability of the B-1B Lancer force
  • Re-starting the AGM-131 SRAM II program, but to have it include compatibility with the F-35, F-16, F-22, and F/A-18E/F platforms in addition to bombers
  • Expanding planned production of the B-21 Raider, while re-starting the B-1 and B-2 production lines, and
  • Massively expanding America’s missile defense system, to include Ground-Based Interceptors around the East Coast and Aegis Ashore systems near many major cities and military bases.

If Russia is going to continue violating this treaty, then perhaps the United States needs to procure weapons system that reflect that reality. The cost of not doing so could be disastrous.

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