Delayed START

By John Liang / August 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM

One of the main stumbling blocks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's efforts to approve the ratification of the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty has been committee Republicans' wish to view the negotiating record of the talks between U.S. and Russian officials that culminated earlier this year. As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said last month:

"There are so many things that we have not yet had permission to read," Kyl said, including the State Department's record of the negotiations between U.S. and Russian officials that concluded earlier this year. There are "still hundreds of questions that have not been answered from the administration. . . . Both the Armed Services Committee and the (Select) Intelligence Committee have more hearings and more work to do, even if the Foreign Relations Committee is ready to wind her up," he continued, adding: "And of course there's the resolution for ratification -- we have not even begun to consider the things that need to go into that.

"What thoughtful people need to do is to say, 'Slow down, you will have a better chance of getting the treaty through if you try to do it the right way," he continued. "If you try to run roughshod over those who have legitimate questions to ask, you try and jam it through and you don't take into account the things that we've raised here, then you are less likely to get it ratified than you are if you do it right,' even, I would suggest, if we get into the next Congress."

Looks like he and other treaty skeptics may have gotten their wish. In a letter sent to panel members by Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) this afternoon and first reported by Politico, Kerry writes:

Responding to requests from several senators, the Executive branch has now provided a thorough summary of the New START negotiating record regarding missile defense.

Kerry's letter also lists the other documents provided by the White House:

* On May 13, the treaty text, protocol, and annexes were submitted to the Senate, with a detailed article-by-article analysis of every provision.

* On May 13, the President also submitted a comprehensive plan for maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons complex.

* On June 30, the Intelligence Community submitted a National Intelligence Estimate assessing its ability to monitor compliance with the terms of the New START Treaty.

* On July 2, the State Department submitted a report assessing international compliance with arms control agreements, including Russia’s compliance with the original START Treaty.

* On July 12, the State Department submitted an analysis of the New START Treaty’s verifiability.

* Over the course of the last month, the Executive branch has responded to hundreds of questions for the record that members posed to Committee witnesses.

Kerry's letter states that committee members should be prepared to vote on approving the treaty on either Sept. 15 or Sept. 16.