Bicameral Leaders Take Action While Obama Waits
Washington - Congressman Mike Rogers (AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Congressman Joe Heck, Chairman, House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, and Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade made the following statement on the introduction of their resolution concerning Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, a day after their joint classified subcommittee oversight with the Obama Administration. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is introducing a companion resolution in the Senate:
"Fresh off the invasion of a sovereign state, Russian cheating cannot be interpreted in anything but the most sinister terms. Cheating is not a separate issue, but is rather recognized as an equal part of President Putin’s long term plan for a resurgent Russia.”
“We have introduced this resolution because the viability of future arms control agreements depend on the reliability of current ones. The INF treaty is the central arms control accord of the nuclear era. We must treat it seriously and pursue violations relentlessly. There is simply no point in having treaties unless both sides treat them with the utmost fidelity, and act in a manner binding to the agreement. "
In a letter to colleagues urging support for the resolution, the sponsors wrote:
On Thursday, January 29th, the New York Times reported that the Russian Federation is violating and circumventing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This treaty, which was ratified by the United States in 1987, prohibits the U.S. and Russia from developing or deploying ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 - 5,500 kilometers.
Over the past two years, senior members of Congress repeatedly sent a series of classified and unclassified letters to the White House requesting immediate high-level action from the Administration to address this violation. Moreover, according to our oversight, the Administration omitted this possible violation from Senate consideration during the process of ratification of the New START Treaty in 2010.
The Administration chose to downplay and marginalize Russia’s cheating while projecting that its “reset” policy was sound. It is understandable that Russia felt it could get away with its illegal invasion of Ukraine when this Administration has tolerated its other violations of international law.
In his speech on nuclear disarmament in Prague, in April 2009, President Obama stated that he longed for the “peace and security…of a world without nuclear weapons.” Mindful of history, perhaps, he also stated, “[r]ules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” He followed this policy pronouncement with his Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, which stated, “it is not enough to detect non-compliance; violators must know that they will face consequences when they are caught.” The President said the right words in Prague and it is time for him personally address Russia’s violation of the INF treaty.
Our resolution is intended to induce the President to show that his words mean something. The resolution states that the Russian Federation has violated and circumvented the INF treaty, and its conduct represents a “material breach” of the central arms control regime of the nuclear era. The resolution would call on the President to take appropriate action to ensure that the Russian Federation is unable to profit from its violation by potentially threatening U.S. allies in Europe and Asia.
At a time when Russia has illegally invaded Ukraine, and when Syria and Iran must understand the continuing consequences of their illegal weapons of mass destruction programs, it is intolerable for a major arms control violation like the material breach of the INF treaty to occur without consequences. If the President won’t act, the Congress must.