Begich: START Treaty Does Not Harm Missile Defense System
Alaska's missile defense at Fort Greely not impacted by treaty
After assurances from the President, Secretary of State and military leaders that it will not impact Alaska's Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) ballistic missile system at Fort Greely, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today affirmed his support for the New START Treaty.
Begich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the treaty supports a strong U.S. nuclear arsenal as an effective strategic deterrent, provides stability, predictability and transparency between the two largest nuclear powers, and does not in any way negatively impact Alaska's missile defense system.
"I am confident nothing in this treaty will limit our ability to defend ourselves and our allies against a ballistic missile attack from a rogue nation," Begich said.
In June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, assured Begich the nuclear arms reduction agreement between the U.S. and Russia does not affect Alaska's ground-based missiles, a system which is important to America's overall defense.
"The treaty does not constrain our missile defense efforts," Sec. Clinton said on June 17. "Those of you who worked with me on this committee know my strong support of missile defense, so I want to make this point very clearly."
Begich welcomed the support then, and today said the section of the treaty prohibiting conversion of missile silos or launchers for ballistic missile defense purposes in California does not impact Alaska or other missile defense efforts. Begich, who has worked to make sure the GMD system in Alaska has the funding and resources necessary to protect America, said in fact Fort Greely is in the process of completing a new missile field to replace an aging missile field that was built only for testing which is now plagued by mold and electrical issues. This new field will provide for better capability to defend the nation and have seven spare silos to deploy more interceptors if needed. Begich worked with Senators Lieberman and Sessions to complete funding for the new missile field last year.
"Our own unilateral statement makes it clear this treaty will not constrain missile defense in any way and that we will continue improving and deploying missile defense systems to protect us and our allies," Begich said.
In addition to Sec. Clinton, Sec. of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, former Strategic Commander General Kevin Chilton, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, and many others have confirmed the treaty in no way limits the country's ballistic missile defense plans, Begich added.