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November 24, 2010

Jon Kyl's Greatest Hits
Posted by Kelsey Hartigan

The junior senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl, has refused to answer to the overwhelming military and bipartisan support for New START.  His fellow Republicans have called him out, but he has continued to hold our national security hostage, citing “unresolved issues.” Here is a look at how Jon Kyl has repeatedly shifted his position on New START and blatantly sought to delay the ratification process.

March 6, 2003:  Kyl dismisses START 1 and Reagan’s “Trust, but verify” anthem, praises 3-page SORT agreement—which has no verification provisions. 

Kyl declares on the Senate floor, “The old cold war approach to arms control treaties is clearly outmoded.  Can anyone truly believe that a 700- page behemoth like the START I treaty is relevant to today’s situation? Clearly, such an approach would not reflect today’s radically changed political and strategic environment. As such, it would not serve America’s real security needs.  This treaty does.”

This [SORT] treaty is a masterstroke. It represents, and, I am sure, will be sent as ushering in a wholly new approach to arms control for a wholly new era. The simplicity of this treaty is a marvel. It is extremely brief, indeed just three pages long. It is shorn of the tortured benchmarks, sublimits, arcane definitions and monitoring provisions that weighed down past arms control treaties.”
[Jon Kyl, 3/6/03]

July 2, 2009:  Jon Kyl supports a follow-on to START 1, conditions his support for the treaty on missile defense and says verification is the “paramount goal.”

In a letter to the President:  “We support your determination to bring into force a follow-on agreement to START prior to its lapse on December 5th of this year. However, we will be reluctant to support any agreement that is explicitly conditioned on U.S. abandonment of missile defenses in Europe or otherwise linked to a U.S. decision to curtail or abandon those defenses.

Given that negotiations for a follow-on treaty to START are being conducted on a relatively short timeline, we believe that the paramount goal this year is to ensure that the verification and confidence building measures from the 1991 START treaty do not lapse.” [7/1/09]

November 23, 2009:  Jon Kyl warns of dangers associated with loss in verification measures, says he would have extended the START 1 agreement (which he previously called a “700 page behemoth.”)

“For the first time in 15 years, an extensive set of verification, notification, elimination and other confidence building measures will expire. The U.S. will lose a significant source of information that has allowed it to have confidence in its ability to understand Russian strategic nuclear forces; likewise, the Russian Federation will lose information about U.S. nuclear forces…I don’t say this lightly, but, this borders on malpractice…I believe the U.S. would have been very well served with a simple five year extension of the 1991 Agreement, as the treaty allowed.” [Sen. Kyl, 11/23/09]


April 21, 2010:  Jon Kyl detailed his complaints with New START, citing dramatic cuts, insufficient verification standards, a failure to address Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons and concerns over missile defense.

Speaking at a breakfast with the National Defense University Foundation, Kyl said,"I'm not convinced today that ratifying the New START treaty is in the best interests of the United States," Kyl told the audience. The Obama administration agreed to cut delivery systems "dramatically" to 800 deployed launchers, he noted, a number that "some experts believe is too low"; negotiators also "dramatically watered down" verification standards of the recently expired START I treaty, at the Russians' insistence and against Kyl's advice; and they included language that would pressure a U.S. president to constrain development of a missile defense system to cover only "regional threats," or else risk Russia's withdrawing from the treaty altogether.

"More important to me, the Obama administration negotiators were disingenuous at best in the way they described the wording on missile defense, and some would go further than disingenuous to describe what they did," Kyl said. "And what did we get out of the Russians in return? They will go down to levels [of nuclear arms] they were heading toward anyway. They tied one hand behind our back on missile defense, and we did nothing to address the Russian advantage in tactical nuclear weapons. So we're going to have a very robust debate on whether or not the United States is better off with this treaty. Personally, I'm not sure the treaty is worth what we give up." [National Journal, 4/21/10]


July 8, 2010:  Jon Kyl  pushes for $2.4 billion more in modernization funding, but characterizes New START as “relatively benign.”

Following significant fallout from Mitt Romney’s Wall Street Journal piece, Kyl reassured that many senators will view the treaty “as relatively benign.”
Kyl then concluded, “the administration's working budget documents for the next several years suggest that the modernization plan is underfunded by as much as $2.4 billion.”  [Wall Street Journal, 7/8/10]

NOTE: On November 12, the administration announced it would spend over the next five years $4.1 billion—almost double Kyl’s assessment that it was underfunded by $2.4 billion.

August 4, 2010:  Jon Kyl punts on a vote for New START, saying a lame-duck session may be better.

Kyl told Reuters Aug. 4 that it could be difficult to satisfy his demands before November and thus the vote on New START might need to take place during the lame duck session if the Senate wants to vote on the treaty this year.  [Jon Kyl, 8/4/10]

November 16, 2010:  Jon Kyl punts again, saying he didn’t believe New START could be considered in the lame-duck because of “unresolved issues.”

After the administration briefed Kyl on its $4.1 billion plus up in funding for the nuclear weapons complex on the previous Friday, Jon Kyl released a statement, saing “When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization.” [Jon Kyl, 11/16/10]


November 17, 2010:  Jon Kyl hedges on the prospects of considering New START, citing good faith talks with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

Kyl told CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty when she asked about the negotiations over voting on START during the lame duck session that, "We're talking. In good faith." [CNN, 11/17/10]

November 18, 2010:  Jon Kyl attempts to pull the plug on considering New START during the lame duck (again).

Kyl told MSNBC, "I think there is no chance that [the START] treaty can be completed in the lame duck session." [MSNBC, 11/18/10]


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Jon Kyl really did a lot of great jobs.Thank you for sharing so much.Regards.

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