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Friday, January 21, 2011

Russian Duma Still Does Not Accept Unilateral U.S. New START Treaty Interpretations

The New START Treaty follies continue.

As posted here before, in order to obtain Senate ratification, the Obama administration offered certain understandings of disputed language in the Treaty regarding defensive missile systems.  Such interpretations were inconsistent with prior Russian statements as to what the Russians understood the language to mean.

Rather than making sure both the U.S. and Russia were on the same page as to the meaning of language everyone knew was disputed, the Treaty was rushed to ratification in the lame duck session just before Christmas.

But as further posted here, neither the Russian parliament nor Russian officials have consented to the U.S. interpretation.

While the Russian parliament will ratify the treaty, it appears that the parliament will attach language to the approval disavowing the unilateral interpretation offered by the Obama administration.  As reported by various Russian news sources (emphasis mine):
The U.S. Senate last month endorsed a ratification document outlining specific interpretations of the pact. Among other stipulations, the text states that U.S. missile defense activities should not be impaired by the treaty and backs heightened financial support for modernizing the nation's nuclear arsenal.

One of the Duma's supplementary statements would respond to the U.S. ratification text while the other would address Russia's implementation of the treaty, Interfax quoted [Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin] Kosachyov as saying.

"The document addressed to the American side is entitled 'On the Position of the State Duma on the Reduction and Limitations of Strategic Offensive Armaments' and has 6.5 pages. It also recommends for the Russian president to add the ratification bill and this statement by the State Duma to the note on the exchange of the ratification instruments," he said.
The document would emphasize that "the U.S. unilateral interpretation of certain provisions of this document does not change the legal commitments of the U.S. side and does not impose any additional commitments on Russia," Kosachyov said.
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  1. So amazing - the Russians are going to make their interpretations clear in writing. Too bad our brilliant Senators couldn't have done the same by adding an interpretive statement from Obama. Oh, I forgot! That would have meant taking time to examine the treaty, and ensure that it was in the best interests of our country. That would mean "support[ing], protect[ing], and defend[ing] the Constitution of the United States" or something little like that.

    And Nevada put Reid back in the Senate?! They should be ashamed. Crooked election or not, that election should not have been even close!

  2. What made the Obama administration think they could promise one thing and then deliver something else entirely to a legislative body, expecting to have it accepted without serious review? Oh yeah, right.

  3. Actually, someone in the Senate should take the Russian written attachment as modifying the treaty the Senate voted on and move to withdraw Senate approval for it, based on a failure of the two states to agree on its terms.

    If I signed a contract with you saying you are to provide me with A and did so upon a representation that A stood for a 1/4 inch widget. And you signed and sent it back saying I know you THINK A is a 1/4 inch widget but we think it' s a 1/8 inch widget, there' never been an agreement. It should be voided at the outset . (I realize in contract law, oral representations are given little or no weight compared to the written terms but this is a treaty, not a contract, and the Russian statement was made with full knowledge of what the Senate believed when it approved the treaty.In other words the Russians agreed to it, knowing the US Senate believed it meant something quite different.)

  4. cf is absolutely right. This lack of meeting of the minds as to critical terms and definitions of the "contract" means there is no contract.

    Of what use is a treaty where the parties don't agree as to what it means? None. The Senate should be required to vote again, based on the terms as the Russians believe are controlling.

    Anything less is ameaningless sham ... perpetrated by a US administration more interested in scoring PR points than making substantive achievements for the country.