June 4, 1996 - Issue: Vol. 142, No. 80 — Daily Edition104th Congress (1995 - 1996) - 2nd Session
THE DEFEND AMERICA ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 80
(Senate - June 04, 1996)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Pages S5738-S5741] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] THE DEFEND AMERICA ACT Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today, the Senate is revisiting the star wars system of the 1980's, renamed for the 1990's as the Defend America Act. It was a bad idea then and it is a bad idea today. The suggestion in the title Defend America Act is that to defend America requires nothing more than deploying a national missile defense. In reality, this legislation would pour exorbitant sums into building a missile defense system that would make our Nation more vulnerable to missile attack, while at the same time ignoring the more likely threats to our territory and citizens. The Defend America Act misses the point, and at no small cost to the American taxpayer. The bill requires the Defense Department to deploy a national missile defense by 2003. This approach has several flaws. First, the threat from limited missile attacks against the United States is remote. Throughout the cold war, when the superpowers were antagonists and had far larger nuclear arsenals than they field today, we chose not to deploy missile defenses because the cost did not justify the protection they could provide. Why should we decide to deploy missile defenses now, when the cold war is over, when we have far more cooperative relations with Russia, and when they have a much smaller superpower arsenal? The Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff state that now is not the time to deploy a national missile defense. But the Republicans reject that advice and want to build this wasteful system. The second flaw in this bill is that deploying a missile defense system now will put U.S. policy on a collision course with the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty. The bill promotes the use of ABM components prohibited by this important treaty. Moreover, the bill recommends formal withdrawal from the treaty if the Russians fail to agree within a year to re-write the treaty to permit a national missile defense. Provisions like these send a strong signal to the Russians that cooperation to achieve nuclear arms reductions is not a United States priority. The passage of this bill would put other nations on notice that we do not take our treaty obligations seriously. Members of the Russian Parliament have stated that they will oppose ratification of START II if the United States takes steps to develop or deploy ballistic missile defenses in violation of the ABM Treaty. By endangering the prospects for START II ratification by Russia, the Missile Defense Act will ensure that we will face many thousands more Russian nuclear weapons in the near future than if arms reductions are implemented. Discarding the ABM Treaty would reverse the logic of deterrence and arms control that Republican and Democratic Presidents have pursued for the last four decades. Further, the current threat does not justify the multi-billion dollar expenditures required to field a national missile defense by 2003. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total acquisition cost of this program will range from $31 to $60 billion, and cost billions more to operate. At a time when we are trying to balance the budget and meet essential needs, it is impossible to justify this massive new defense expenditure. Although this bill purports to defend America, it fails to address the most pressing threats to American security. The World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings remind us that terrorist use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on American soil remains a far greater threat than a ballistic missile attack by a foreign nation. Loose controls on nuclear material from the former Soviet Union raise the threat of nuclear proliferation by hostile nations or groups. The policies--and expenditures--contained in this bill in no way address these vital threats. In contrast, the Clinton administration's defense policy addresses these varied threats. First, it takes specific steps to increase nuclear safety. In April in Moscow, the G-7, Russia, and Ukraine met at a nuclear safety summit to discuss means of increasing controls over nuclear materials and defending against nuclear smugglers. The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, sponsored in Congress by Senators Nunn and Lugar, achieved to the removal of thousands of nuclear warheads from former Soviet arsenals and the destruction of hundreds of missile launchers, and has safeguarded vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear materials. The Clinton administration also addresses ballistic missile threats, but in a more sensible fashion. The Defense Department supports theater missile defense programs to defend our forces in the field. To deal with the possibility of a future ballistic missile threats to U.S. territory, the Pentagon supports an affordable level of spending on anti-missile defenses. This program, called 3+3, will ensure that 3 years from now, we will be able to decide [[Page S5739]] whether to deploy a missile defense system that could be in place in 3 years. Our senior military leadership agrees that this is the most sensible way to protect against unforeseen missile threats. The Defend America Act would spend money we don't have to defend against threats that don't exist. We need a strong defense, but we must prepare to meet real threats. Failure to do so will end up wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill. Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, I believe Senator Conrad from North Dakota wanted to speak. We had set aside certain time for him. The debate was originally scheduled to conclude at 12:30. I wanted to serve notice that Senators on our side of the aisle or on this side of the question that would like to speak, they need to come over momentarily so that we can get back to the original time schedule, which is 12:30. I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the floor. Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I ask to be notified when our side has 4 minutes of time remaining. Rather than waiting, I will make some remarks at this time. As Senator Nunn said, if others wish to speak, they should come to the floor immediately. Let me just respond to the key point that Senator Levin made because it is an important question. It is what the effect would be as a result of the United States developing and deploying a national missile defense--what the effect would be on the START I and START II Treaties. These are the two treaties that called for the United States and Russia to reduce our nuclear inventories. Under START I, we would bring the number of warheads down to, I believe, 6,000. And 6,000 warheads is still a lot of warheads. That is why the U.S. Senate has also ratified the START II Treaty, which would take it down below that to, I think, 3,500 warheads. And 3,500 warheads is still a lot of warheads, but the Russian Duma has not even ratified START II yet. The argument I find curious, and which I characterized as ``startling'' a while ago, is that the United States Senate would be deterred from acting to defend America on the basis that the Russians might violate the START I Treaty by refusing to reduce their warheads to the required 6,000 level under START I, if the United States should take action--which is perfectly legal--which does not violate any treaty whatsoever, but which provides for our defense against ballistic missile attack. I find that a very curious notion. But, more importantly, it does not seem to be a reason for the United States not to act. If we cannot act to defend ourselves because we believe that someone else will, as a consequence, violate a treaty that they have with us, then of what worth is that treaty? And of what worth would a follow-on treaty be? If people believe that the Russians are going to violate the START I Treaty if we develop a ballistic missile defense system--which is totally legal--then how valuable is it for the Russians to sign onto a START II Treaty, which would bring their warheads down even more? This is not a matter of either/or. I agree with my friends on this side who say it is desirable to bring those numbers of warheads down, to chop up the bombers, and to close the missile sites. That is a good thing. And it comes side by side with defending America. We still have a defense budget. We are still defending ourselves. Ballistic missile defense is one of those areas of defense that we have been providing for. One of my colleagues said we have already spent a lot of money in that area. It is true. All we are saying is let us spend just a little bit more money and provide an actual system that will defend America. It does not violate any treaties, and there is no reason for the Russians to be concerned that, as a result of this, they should begin violating treaties that they have signed with the United States. So it seems to me that is not a good argument to make against this bill. The bottom line here is this is the Defend America Act. The majority leader, Bob Dole, has asked that we be able to vote on this, and this afternoon we are going to have a vote to decide whether we are going to vote--in other words, a vote to invoke cloture--to stop debate for the time being and actually begin debate on the bill so we can eventually bring it to a vote up or down. Some of my colleagues would prefer not to vote on the bill. I would prefer that they vote either yes or no. They do not have to agree with us that the Defend America Act is a good idea. We ought to at least be able to get a vote on the bill. The vote that is going to occur this afternoon is not a vote on the Defend America Act. It is simply a vote on whether we should proceed to consider the Defend America Act. I hope that our Senate colleagues would at least agree that we can go that far even if they do not want to end up voting for it for the reasons articulated. Let me reserve the remainder of time on this side, and again urge Senators if they wish to speak on the bill, they need to get here because the original time was to expire at 12:30. We have extended that for 10 or 15 minutes. If Senators are not here to speak, we will close debate on the bill before long. Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining? The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia has 21 minutes and 54 seconds. Mr. NUNN. If there are any other Senators that would like to speak, I would certainly invite them to come over at this time. In brief response to my friend from Arizona, he mentioned that those of us who have expressed some concern about the relationship between what we perceive to be a participatory breach of the ABM Treaty as contained in the Dole-Gingrich bill, and the Russians--it will be necessary to continue to draw down their missile and nuclear weapons category as contained and required in START I, and as will be required in START II, if ratified--that there is this connection in the Dole- Gingrich bill, and anyone virtually reading this bill and who is familiar with the ABM Treaty would consider this to be tantamount to notice that the ABM Treaty is going to be breached. In section 4(a)(1), little (b) under section 4, very clearly the system to be developed for deployment shall include the following elements: No. 1, an interceptor system that optimizes defensive coverage of the continental United States, and so forth, and includes one or a combination of the following: (a) ground-based interceptors; (b) sea-based interceptors; (c) space-based kinetic energy interceptors; (d) space-based direct energy interceptors, and so forth. Three out of the four of those named would violate directly the ABM Treaty. I do not think the ABM Treaty is sacred ground. I believe there ought to be modest amendments to the ABM Treaty. As I suggested in my remarks yesterday, if the Senator wants to carry out the spirit of his remarks which is saying for the Russians we are not going to violate the ABM Treaty and now you do not violate START I, we will not be violating the ABM Treaty if we deploy a ground-based system--and we would not. That is correct. But if we deploy any of the other systems named in this Dole-Gingrich bill we would. So if he would like to vote strictly on the proposition he just offered then we will have a chance to do that on my substitute because that is what it does. It says we will go forward with a treaty, an ABM Treaty compliance system with 100 interceptors at Grand Forks, and then we will seek an amendment to the treaty as provided in the treaty to be able to go to two sites and 1,200 missiles, which would indeed be the original ABM Treaty exactly as it was before there was an amendment in the 1970's. That would be treaty compliant. If we did that, there would be no question that the Russians would have no right to violate START I. They would have no excuse for basically not ratifying START II. But when you basically say to the Russians what we are going to do here is get you to draw down to 3,500 warheads, and then about the time you do that under the START II treaty we are going to deploy perhaps a sea- based system, a space-based system, or space-based direct energy system, what you are saying in effect is we want you to comply with the START I and START II, but just about the time you get through implementing it we are going to in all likelihood break out of the ABM Treaty. That is the message that is going forward here. [[Page S5740]] That is the message everybody understands that has studied the ABM Treaty. So to say we basically are fearful that the Russians are breaking their obligations and leaving out of the equation that we are serving notice we are going to break ourselves, I think, is a little bit misleading. So I say to my friend from Arizona that, if he would like to vote on that proposition staying within the ABM Treaty, or seeking an amendment within a reasonable timeframe to that treaty to permit a better system than the one-site system, he will have every opportunity to do that when we get to a vote on this because that is exactly what the Nunn substitute will provide. Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I would say to the distinguished ranking member of the Armed Services Committee that I would love the opportunity to vote on both the proposal that Senator Dole has made and also the substitute that Senator Nunn would like to make. That is what this cloture vote is all about. If we do not vote for cloture we are not going to have that opportunity. Second, there is no difference in concept between the proposal of the Senator from Georgia and our proposal. We are not engaging in an anticipatory breach of the ABM Treaty with this bill. We provide two specific mechanisms, both of which are treaty compliant, to proceed. One of them is similar to that which the Senator from Georgia proposes. In his substitute he is suggesting that we have not one ground-based site but two. Under the current ABM Treaty that would be in violation of the treaty if we went forward to build that. So in his legislation he provides that we should seek an amendment to the treaty to accommodate this second site. Likewise, in the Dole bill, the bill before us today, it reads on page 9, line 8, ``In light of the findings in section 2 and the policy established in section 3 [in other words, that we should build a national missile defense system] the Congress urges the President to pursue high level discussions with the Russian Federation to achieve an agreement to amend the ABM Treaty''-- to allow the deployment of the system. We ask for the same thing. In other words, to the extent that we might go beyond what the ABM Treaty allows, the Senator from Georgia is correct to say that some of the things in the bill, if they were done--it is up to the President to decide whether they would be done--but if they were done those things could be considered beyond the scope of the ABM Treaty. In that event, we then ask the President to engage in the negotiations with the Russians to amend the treaty to permit it. In the event that the Russians would not agree to it, we then invoke a second provision of the ABM Treaty which specifically provides that the United States can give notice of withdrawal from the treaty if we determine it is in our interest to do so. We tried for an entire year of negotiations, whereas the ABM Treaty would allow us to withdraw within a period of only 6 months. We are not breaching the ABM Treaty. We are not even engaged in an anticipatory breach--in other words, a breach sometime in the future. We are simply saying that we are going to embark upon a course of action which will provide for the defense of the United States, and, if in the future some provision of that would not be consistent with the ABM Treaty then, (a), the President should try to negotiate amendments to the treaty just as the Nunn substitute provides; and (b), if that is not possible, then the United States can give notice of withdrawal from the treaty which the treaty itself provides. It is a little bit like the argument that someone does not like to amend the U.S. Constitution in some respect. They said the Constitution should not be amended. Of course, the Constitution has within it an explicit provision for amending it. It has been amended some 23 times now, or 24. I have lost track. The fact is we have amended the U.S. Constitution. The ABM Treaty has a provision for amendment of the ABM Treaty. Just because we want to do something that might be inconsistent with the current treaty does not mean that thereby we are in violation of the treaty, if we are able to amend the treaty or even if we give notice under the treaty that we are going to withdraw from it because it is in our national interest to do so. That is not a breach of the treaty. It is using the actual provisions of the treaty to further the interests of the United States. So, I certainly respect the judgment of the Senator from Georgia that we must be very cautious about how we proceed. We have to take into consideration how other nations might react, and certainly Russia is important in this regard. But, by the same token, we cannot fail to act, if something is in the interests of the United States, in anticipation that the Russians might not like it or that they might, as a consequence of what we do that is perfectly legal, begin to violate some treaty that we believe to be in our best interests. Mr. NUNN. Will the Senator yield for one brief moment? Mr. KYL. I am happy to stop at this point and yield the floor. Mr. NUNN. I do not want to make the argument for the Russians here, but I think they would do the same thing we are talking about in the bill that you are talking about. If they see that on our side the ABM Treaty is going to likely be violated, then they will serve notice under START I that it was not in their national interests. To say, on the one hand, we are complying because we are going to give notice and then get out, but, on the other hand, they could not do the same thing and they are therefore violating the treaty is also, I think, a little misleading. I think it works both ways. If they want to get out of START I, they have the right to do so, or if we want to get out of START I. We both have those reciprocal clauses in both ABM and START I, and I think that would be the way either side would go about devolving from the position of compliance. Mr. KYL. I might say to the Senator that while that might be the right of the Russians, you have to consider what is in the national interest of Russia and the United States. We will both act in our national interests whatever we deem that to be. Mr. NUNN. Exactly. Mr. KYL. There are a lot of arguments made by Russians themselves that relate to the cost of continuing to maintain an arsenal. My guess would be that the Russians would at least want to draw their arsenal down to the levels called for in START I, because it is very expensive to maintain that degree of arsenal. There is also a counterargument made that they might not agree to the START II Treaty that we have already ratified because of the high cost of compliance in bringing those warheads down. The Senator from Georgia has been a leader in the United States in trying to provide assistance to the Russians to enable them to afford to do that. It is an expensive proposition. Mr. NUNN. Right. Mr. KYL. I guess what I am saying here is that the Russians themselves have made two contradictory arguments, both of which might be true. That is to say, No. 1, it is expensive to maintain these arsenals; No. 2, it is expensive to get rid of them. Probably they will do what is in their best interests regardless of what the United States does. Mr. NUNN. I think they certainly will act in what they believe is their national interest. I think the real key here is whether we can enter into a period of time with Russia, and we have some hope of doing that, where we both have similar national interests in both defensive weapons as well as drawing down offensive weapons. So we reduce the threat to them, they reduce the threat to us. We both move together in trying to develop some type systems to defend our own territory, that are certainly more sophisticated than what Russia has now, and we have none at all. So I am very much in favor of moving down the path of cooperation with the Russians if it is possible. If it is not possible, we have to go back to the national interest clause under the ABM Treaty. As I have said many times, I do not think the ABM Treaty is sacred. I think it was in our interests when it was entered into, but it has to be adjusted over the period of time. It is all-important the way you go about adjusting it, though. I think if you talk to anyone now who is familiar with the history of the ABM Treaty, if they read the Dole- Gingrich bill before us, the way it is worded, the entire tenor of [[Page S5741]] the bill is tantamount to serving notice that we are going to move in our own independent direction. At some point, we may have to do that, but I do not think the year is now, and I do not think it is time now to give up on a mutual approach that can save us billions and billions of dollars and also increase the security of our people. I do not think that hope should be written off. Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I certainly agree with the goals as articulated by the Senator from Georgia. We have some slight difference as to how to get there, but he certainly has articulated the issue well. I ask at this point, if there is no one else who desires to speak, even though there be time remaining, if there is no other person desiring to speak other than the leaders, that it would be possible to yield back any remaining time and proceed to allow leaders to speak as they desire and then to hold the cloture vote at 2:15 or as soon thereafter as appropriate. Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, I agree with the suggestion of my friend from Arizona. There is apparently no one else on this side who plans to speak at this point in time. I certainly would agree to that procedure. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the time has been considered yielded back. Leaders will be accorded an opportunity to speak prior to the cloture vote, which will be when the Senate reconvenes. ____________________