Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association sent around a very interesting exchange between Senator Lugar and John Rood, the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, during hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 21. Sen. Lugar asked Rood if the administration is working on a new arms control treaty with Russia. Here is Rood's response:
At present we have a difference of opinion with our Russian colleagues. Our view in the administration is that we want a treaty that will set limits on strategic nuclear warheads. We think that that is the appropriate focus of the follow-on treaty. Our Russian colleagues have sought a treaty with a broader scope, something which would also cover conventional armaments and conventional delivery systems and things of that nature.
We are in the process of transitioning to a greater reliance on conventional weapons and a reduced reliance on nuclear forces. We therefore don't wish to expand the scope of the treaty in the manner -- or other legally binding agreement -- in the manner that our Russian colleagues have identified.
Both sides, the Russians and the United States, do not wish to simply continue the existing START treaty. It's a phone book-size document of 750 pages. The negotiations began under Brezhnev when he was leader of the Soviet Union and were concluded under Gorbachev. And so we both recognize they need to be updated as a minimum.
We in the United States would like another approach, as I said, that focuses on strategic nuclear warheads and sets limitations upon them.
This doesn't sound good - with this kind of attitudes on both sides we will not have a treaty.