Hours after President Obama signed the new START nuclear weapons treaty this morning, a key House Republican is voicing an aggressive stance on missile defense, a significant matter of dispute between the U.S. and Russia even as the treaty is days from becoming official.
Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which has jurisdiction over missile defense, said “Make no mistake: the House Armed Services Committee will be pushing forward on missile defense improvements and enhancements we believe are in the national interest” in a written statement Wednesday.
The issue is important because in recent public statements Russia has articulated a broad anti-missile defense mandate from the START treaty at odds with the American understanding of its terms, Turner said.
“As the START Treaty is finalized, Russia has once again asserted that the treaty restricts U.S. and Allied missile defense programs. I am deeply concerned that the U.S and Russia are signing an agreement where we have different visions as to what the treaty represents,” Turner said.
“Russia has claimed a virtual veto over U.S. and Allied missile defense programs. That assertion is inappropriate as all sovereign states reserve the right to decide how to best defend themselves,” Turner said.
But hours after Obama signed the treaty, Turner said the treaty poses no such restrictions on the U.S. and vowed to continue pursuing new missile defense capabilities even in defiance of Russian protestations.
“The U.S. Senate made sure that the New START Treaty was not ‘ABM Treaty Lite,’ and it falls to the administration to defend that understanding, as required by the Resolution of Ratification,” Turner said, “the House Armed Services Committee will be pushing forward on missile defense improvements and enhancements we believe are in the national interest, even if that includes what Russia decides to be ‘quantitative and qualitative’ improvements.”