US knew Russians cheated on nuclear missile agreement

Daily Beast:
The Kremlin cheated on a nuclear pact it signed with the United States, the U.S. government believes—and Secretary Kerry was briefed on the violations almost a year ago.

Congressional leaders are acting to force the Obama administration to confront Russia on its violations of a nuclear treaty that U.S. officials have acknowledged since 2012.

On November 27 of that year, two top Obama administration officials held a closed-door hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. John Kerry, who only months later would become President Obama’s secretary of state. Inside the top-secret hearing, acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon told lawmakers that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), according to two U.S. officials who attended the classified meeting.

Inside the meeting, Kerry expressed anger and frustration about the Russian cheating and warned that if the violations became widely known, future efforts to convince the Senate to ratify arms control treaties would be harmed.

“If we’re going to have treaties with people, we’ve got to adhere to them,” Kerry said, according to two U.S. officials who read the classified transcript of the hearing. “We’re not going to pass another treaty in the U.S. Senate if our colleagues are sitting up here knowing somebody is cheating.”

Kerry was a major proponent of the New START treaty with Russia, which the Senate ratified after a long debate in December 2010. As secretary of state, he has supported negotiating a follow-on treaty with Russia that could place further limits on the two countries’ stockpiles of strategic and tactical deployed nuclear weapons.

But Kerry knew last year that Russia was in violation of the INF Treaty. That pact, signed by President Reagan, bars development, testing, or deployment of missiles or delivery systems with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

“If we’re going to try to reduce more weapons or we’re going to try to have further limits…I can’t look you in the eye, I can’t look anybody in the eye here and say, ‘Hey, vote for this, we haven’t followed through and kept the promises with the prior ones, with the foundations that we’ve built here,” Kerry said inside the hearing.
What this demonstrates is that this administration is way too "flexible" when it comes to holding adversaries to their agreements.   Why should we trust them to hold the Iranians to account on their nuclear agreement.  They appear to be looking for excuses to weaken the US in the name of negotiations that are without much meaning to the other side.


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