Cheaters Beware

Russia would gain no significant military advantage by trying to surreptitiously maintain a larger strategic nuclear arsenal than allowed under the New START arms control regime, Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of US Strategic Command, said Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chilton said any “significant cheating” attempts by the Russians would be detectable under the treaty’s intrusive inspection and verification protocols. Even if Russia did succeed to some extent, he said the US ability to deter Russia “with an assured response” would remain. “I believe that we are in a good position vis-à-vis the Russians in this regard,” he said. Absent New START, the US would have to rely solely on its intelligence estimates to gauge Russia’s strategic forces, a riskier prospect, he said. The treaty would limit US and Russia each to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads. President Obama would like to see the Senate ratify New START by year’s end. The US and Russia signed it in April. (Chilton’s prepared remarks)