The Senate is expected to start debate on the nuclear arms treaty with Russia Wednesday, amidst protests from Republicans.
Senator Bond sides with many Republicans that say this shouldn’t be rushed.
“I really think the START treaty ought to be debated in full next year. I have already expressed my very strong reservations about it. From an intelligence standpoint, I think there are grave questions about the way we cut back on our ability to verify, by getting the unencrypted telemetry from the Russians, what they’re doing,” Bond said.
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the START treaty in April to replace the one that expired last year. But the senate has yet to approve that treaty.
“(It) would significantly lessen our ability that we had in the old START treaty to guard against Russian strikes, Russian breakouts. That would put limits on the number of weapons we can develop,” Bond said.
Bond worries there may be even wider implications.
“Just last month the world was reminded of the still-present threat from rogue nations when North Korea unveiled a vast new nuclear weapons plant and followed up with a conventional attack later on South Korea. Iran celebrated its progress as its first nuclear power plant went into operation. That means we have to have a robust missile defense system. I’m concerned that the agreements with Russia seem to have indicated that we are not willing to deploy missile defense. To me that’s unforgivable,” Bond said.
The old START treaty expired last year, and the U-S and Russia haven’t been able to inspect each other’s nuclear stockpiles since then.
Many Republicans have said they want to push the measure off until next year, with Republican Senator Jim DeMint threatening to read the entire bill aloud on the senate floor to stall debate if Democrats tried to bring it up this session. Democrat Harry Reid reportedly agreed Tuesday to push debate off until Wednesday in the face of that threat.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded by saying it’s a “new low” to be playing political games with national security issues. Bond says Gibbs is just taking a partisan shot at Republicans, and that he and his colleagues are pushing the delay because of their concern for national security.