5 years ago
From The Telegraph:
Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.
Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, said: “They want to find out whether Britain has more missiles than we say we have, and having the unique identifiers might help them.”
Professor Malcolm Chalmers said: “This appears to be significant because while the UK has announced how many missiles it possesses, there has been no way for the Russians to verify this. Over time, the unique identifiers will provide them with another data point to gauge the size of the British arsenal.”
Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.
The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
Details of the behind-the-scenes talks are contained in more than 1,400 US embassy cables published to date by the Telegraph, including almost 800 sent from the London Embassy, which are published online today.
Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.
The Telegraph is referring to the New START treaty already ratified by the U.S. Senate, and for which Secretary Gates lobbied. I had previously argued that the treaty was one-sided and brought the U.S. no discernible advantage in any area of weapons or nuclear technology, or foreign policy. When Ronald Reagan advocated for the initial START treaty, even Time Magazine noted that it was one-sided in favor of the U.S., a fact which caused Time incorrectly to predict its failure. Reagan negotiated from a position of strength.
But what we’ve learned now goes past a bad treaty – and it was a bad treaty. It goes to reputation, to status, to honoring allies and friendships, to standing. It makes this administration out to be pusillanimous weasels willing to sell out even our closest friends to enemies and criminals for a mere smattering of success on the world stage.
We pressed the reset button in foreign policy with Russia, but Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev viewed this as having made us sniveling lackeys. Our enemies think we are fools and clowns, while our allies cannot trust us. So much for success on the world stage. Mr. Obama, we all knew Ronald Reagan, and you sir are no Ronald Reagan.