Baucus, Tester: New START strengthens America’s security without undermining our nuclear strategy

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today voted to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the U.S. and Russia after working to ensure the agreement will maintain a strong U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force and that Malmstrom Air Force Base will continue to play a key role in U.S. national security for decades to come. 

“This treaty provides us with critical tools to keep nuclear weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists. It is supported by our military commanders and critical to our national security,” Baucus said. “The ICBM force is also critical to our national security.  There is no better place for those ICBMs than in Montana and no better folks to make sure they remain secure than the airmen serving in Montana. There was some talk around this town about making deep reductions to the ICBM force.  We made it clear to the President that was unacceptable, and fought hard to make sure the START Treaty recognized the critical role that ICBMs play in U.S. national security.   As a result of those efforts, we are confident that Malmstrom, and the entire ICBM force, will remain a key part of defending the United States for decades to come.”

“This agreement has support from our military commanders and from Republicans and Democrats because it makes our country safer without undermining our nuclear strategy,” Tester said.  “And just as importantly, the treaty means Montana’s role in America’s defense will stay strong well into the future.  Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to make sure Montana stays at the front lines of keeping America secure.”

The New START agreement allows the U.S. to inspect and monitor Russia’s nuclear arsenal, and to count Russia’s strategic nuclear warheads.  The U.S. has not had the ability to keep tabs on Russia’s weapons since the original START agreement expired in December 2009.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that the lapse of these inspections has made the jobs of U.S. military planners more difficult.

The treaty also preserves America’s right to use nuclear defense if necessary, and would not limit the ability of the United States to continue implementing missile defense programs.

Baucus and Tester, both outspoken supporters of the Malmstrom’s arsenal of ICBMs and members of the Senate’s bipartisan ICBM coalition, worked hard to prevent deep cuts in the ICBM force.

Baucus and Tester met with Vice President Biden and wrote the President, along with the entire bipartisan ICBM Coalition, to express the importance of the ICBM force and ensure the treaty resulted in minimal reductions.  In November, Baucus, Tester and their colleagues in the ICBM Coalition released a White Paper, which argued that ICBMs are the most stabilizing part of America’s nuclear arsenal and offer the greatest assurance to U.S. allies.

Every living former Secretary of State from both parties, and former president George H.W. Bush, has urged the ratification of New START.

New START makes America safer
  • Allows the U.S. to monitor, inspect and count Russia’s nuclear warheads
  • Creates a partnership with Russia to confront national security issues stemming from Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan
  • Preserves America’s right to use nuclear defense
  • Maintains a U.S. nuclear arsenal big enough to keep other countries from trying to match it
  • Reduces total number of strategic nuclear warheads held by both Russia and the U.S.
    • Montana’s 150 land-based ICBMs will be least-affected by these reductions
What’s next?
  • New START must now be ratified by Russia before it can enter into force.
Who supports New START?
  • Every living former Secretary of State—Democratic and Republican
    • James Baker
    • Henry Kissinger
    • Condoleezza Rice
    • Madeleine Albright
    • Warren Christopher
    • Lawrence Eagleburger
    • George Shultz
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen
  • Missile Defense Agency Director Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly
  • Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell
  • Former President George H. W. Bush
  • Former President Bill Clinton