Monday, July 22, 2019


Psychiatrists detect liars by certain “tells” — eye movement, physical posture, repeating questions to buy time to think of lies.

Whenever Moscow starts talking about preserving world peace through arms control, we should know from long experience — they are lying.

Indeed, Russia’s arms control proposals are a perfect “tell” about which U.S. weapons should not be limited or eliminated. Arms control for Russia is an instrument of aggression, used by Moscow to disarm the United States — while Moscow cheats on treaties for strategic advantage.

On July 17, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, told the U.S. delegation meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) that “any hypothetically possible new agreement or treaty with the United States in the area of arms control must necessarily” limit U.S. missile defense capabilities.

Or as Russia’s Sputnik news service headlined: “New START Treaty Must Link Control Over Offensive, Defensive Strategic Threats” (July 17, 2019).

In other words, if the United States wants New START (that supposedly limits Russian long-range nuclear missiles and bombers) to continue, the United States must lower or eliminate America’s and NATO’s missile defenses.

What Moscow wants especially is a guarantee that President Trump’s U.S. Space Force will not resurrect President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and space-based missile defenses to shield America and NATO from Russian nuclear aggression.  

So what Russia is telling us in Geneva, without meaning to, is that the best way for the United States and NATO to deter and defeat Russian nuclear aggression is to build space-based missile defenses as soon as possible.  

Pollyannas in the State Department and the Arms Control Association foolishly believe Russia really feels “threatened” by U.S. space-based and other missile defenses because protecting the peoples of America and European NATO betrays Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).

But Moscow never believed in the principle of MAD.  

Moscow used the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to ensure Mutual Assured Destruction would not be “mutual.” The ABM Treaty left Americans unprotected from nuclear annihilation — while Moscow’s ABM system today protects European Russia, where most of its population is located.

Subsequently, Moscow cheated on the ABM Treaty by deploying nationwide defenses comprising thousands of surface-to-air-missiles (SAMs) capable of intercepting everything — missiles, cruise missiles and bombers.  

The United States dismantled its ABM system in 1975, resurrecting in 2002 an inadequate “dumbed down” National Missile Defense that is challenged to defend Americans even from North Korea.   

Moscow fears Mr. Trump will deploy space-based missile defenses that would be highly effective and defeat Russian plans to win a nuclear war.

For example, Ambassador Henry Cooper, former director of SDI, proposes deploying Brilliant Pebbles, a space-based missile defense canceled by President Clinton. Brilliant Pebbles would cost $20 billion, could begin deployment in Mr. Trump’s second term and could shield America from hundreds of nuclear missiles launched by Russia, China, North Korea or Iran.

A Russian disarming nuclear first strike against U.S. missiles and bombers has very high damage goals — seeking to destroy 90 percent of U.S. strategic forces. Even if U.S. space-based missile defenses are only partially successful — degrading a first strike from Russia or China by 10 percent to 20 percent — this would very significantly erode first strike effectiveness and greatly strengthen deterrence.   

In Geneva, Russia’s highest diplomatic priority is to prevent the U.S. Space Force from becoming a space-based missile shield against Moscow’s nuclear first strike capabilities. 

Why are we in Geneva begging Russia to extend New START anyway? Have we learned nothing from Moscow’s long history of cheating on arms control agreements?  (See “The Case Against Arms Control” RealClearDefense.com, June 24, 2019.)

The State Department asserts Russia is in compliance with New START. But how do they know?  

The Heritage Foundation Report “New START: Potemkin Village Verification” (June 24, 2010) got it absolutely right: 

“The New START verification regime is not sufficient to detect large-scale cheating by the Russian Federation. As past experience has shown, inadequate verification measures are likely to be exploited … Russia … can deploy many more warheads and missiles than allowed by the treaty with little risk of detection.”

For example:

• New START inspections (18 annually) are limited to declared missile and bomber sites.

• “Short-notice verification inspections have essentially been abolished, providing more time to hide or remove items from the inspection site.”

• Under New START “there is no limit on the size of [Russian] missile bases … The entire country can now be a [mobile] missile base.”

• “The verification of actual … deployed ballistic missile warheads is made much more difficult by the elimination of START limits on the size and power … of ballistic missiles, and the removal of all constraints on the number of warheads that can be tested on ballistic missiles and deployed bombers.”

• Under New START “it is clearly legal to encrypt telemetry for every flight test.”

• New START “allows the inspected party to place covers over the reentry vehicles” which Russia has used to impede “the visual counting of the number of reentry vehicles actually deployed” on missiles.            

President Trump, America doesn’t need another worthless arms control treaty with Russia, China, North Korea or Iran. We need space-based missile defenses, like Brilliant Pebbles.     

• Peter Vincent Pry served as chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commission and in the CIA.

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