Morrissey baselessly suggests new nuclear arms treaty limits U.S. missile defense

Ed Morrissey baselessly suggested that the proposed U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty would limit U.S. missile defense, citing a Russian diplomat's statement that Russia might pull out of the treaty if the U.S. increases its missile defense capabilities. But the Obama administration says the treaty does not constrain U.S. missile defense, and treaties -- including a nuclear arms treaty signed by President Bush -- typically allow parties to withdraw.

HotAir's Morrissey baselessly suggests U.S. missile defense limited by treaty

Morrissey says “Russians claim the treaty limits” U.S. missile defense. In his March 30 post, headlined “Is the START treaty a non-starter?” Ed Morrissey wrote that “the Obama administration may have bungled the translation of its newly-announced START treaty with Moscow” because "[t]he Russians claim that the treaty limits American efforts on missile defense, which the White House denies." Morrissey added that “If the treaty does limit American efforts on missile defense,” President Obama will not have the votes in the Senate to pass it.

Article Morrissey cites says on that Russians say they will pull out of treaty if level of U.S. missile defense increases. The sole evidence Morrissey cited for his suggestion that the treaty would limit U.S. missile defense was the following passage from a March 30 Washington Times article:

As the Obama administration prepared to send the new U.S.-Russian arms treaty to the Senate for ratification, differences emerged Monday between Moscow and Washington over whether the agreement limits missile defenses.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia reserved the right to pull out of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, if the level of U.S. missile defense forces increases.

“The package of documents presumes that the treaty is concluded in circumstances where the parties have appropriate levels of strategic defensive systems,” Mr. Lavrov said. “Changing these levels gives each party the right to decide the question of its future participation in the process of reducing strategic offensive arms.”

No contradiction between Russian and U.S. comments on missile defense. Contrary to the claim of the Times as forwarded by Morrissey, there is no contradiction between the U.S. statement that the treaty does not impose limits on their missile defense system and the Russian statement that they reserve the right to withdraw from the treaty if the U.S. expands its missile defense capabilities.

White House: “No Constraints on Missile Defense”

A March 26 White House fact sheet on the proposed treaty states:

No Constraints on Missile Defense and Conventional Strike: The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities.

Treaties typically allow parties to withdraw

White House fact sheet calls new treaty's withdrawal clause “standard.” The White House fact sheet states that it “includes a withdrawal clause that is standard in arms-control agreements.”

Bush-signed arms treaty included withdrawal clause. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, signed by Bush and former Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2002 -- which the new proposed treaty would replace -- stated: “Each Party, in exercising its national sovereignty, may withdraw from this Treaty upon three months written notice to the other Party.”

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty also provided both nations “right to withdraw.” The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 between the United States and the Soviet Union contained a withdrawal provision, which stated:

Each Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from the Treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

President Bush exercised the United States' right to withdraw from the ABM treaty in 2001.