This UK Telegraph report is absolutely astonishing:
A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.
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.
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.”
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.”
While the US and Russia have long permitted inspections of each other’s nuclear weapons, Britain has sought to maintain some secrecy to compensate for the relatively small size of its arsenal.
An earlier Wikileaks cable showed Britain being mocked by a US diplomat over our “special relationship”:
Richard LeBaron, the US deputy chief of mission, said the obsession with the alliance would “be humorous, if it were not so corrosive”.
He also reported to Washington that it would be “tempting” to take advantage of Britain’s attitude.
There’s nothing funny at all about how the Obama administration is trampling all over our longstanding allies.This is absolutely disgraceful.
I wonder if this news will find its way into the Obama media’s news coverage. (That was a rhetorical question).
Geoff notes that this probably violates Article 3 of the NATO treaty:
Article 3In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
But WikiLeaks Is Often Hype… One thing: WikiLeaks doesn’t have all the diplomatic cables. It might be the case (in fact, I’d bet hope it is the case) that the US and UK had a side-deal where the UK blessed this exchange.
So, actually, give this one 24 hours.
But Then… Allies paper things over publicly even in the case of a major breach. Publicly, they say “everything’s cool.’
See Urban Grounds for photoshop:
From To Russia With Love.
The matter is serious enough to merit Congressional hearings in Washington as well as parliamentary hearings in London. It is easy to see why the Obama team refused to allow the US Senate access to the negotiating documents for New START, as they would have sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic that would almost certainly have killed the Treaty. The Telegraph report clearly contradicts repeated claims by the Obama negotiating team that no side deals were struck with their Russian counterparts. Not for the first time, the current US administration has been eager to appease America’s enemies while shamelessly undercutting her allies.
Ed Morrissey says the Senate should look into revoking the START TREATY:
This is a disgrace, of course. Remember when Obama the candidate insisted that he would restore our standing with friends and allies after the supposedly inept diplomacy of the Bush administration? We do not increase our standing among friends or foes when we stab the former in the back for the sake of the latter. Instead, we look craven, disloyal, and inept.
Regardless of what Obama thinks of American nuclear deterrents and policy, he has no right to undermine the policies of our closest ally and stalwart friend, especially as they fight with us in Afghanistan. Congress should immediately investigate this, and if possible the Senate should revoke its ratification of START.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley has responded to the Telegraph story via Twitter:
Here is the text of the SALT I treaty. I’m looking through it, right now to see where it says it that the US has to provide Russia with Britain’s nuclear secrets.
Would this be the section that applies?
3. Each Party shall provide to the other Party, in accordance with the Notification Protocol, and, for subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, in accordance with Section III of the Inspection Protocol: [Agreed State 37]
bbbb(a)notifications concerning data with respect to items subject to the limitations provided for in this Treaty, according to categories of data contained in the Memorandum of Understanding and other agreed categories of data; [Agreed State 21]
bbbb(c)notifications concerning data on ICBM and SLBM throw-weight in connection with the Protocol on ICBM and SLBM Throw-weight [MOU, Section I] Relating to this Treaty, hereinafter referred to as the Throw-weight Protocol;
bbbb(d)notifications concerning conversion or elimination of items subject to the limitations provided for in this Treaty or elimination of facilities subject to this Treaty;
bbbb(h)notifications concerning changes in the content of information provided pursuant to this paragraph, including the rescheduling of activities;
4. Each Party shall use the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers, which provide for continuous communication between the Parties, to provide and receive notifications in accordance with the Notification Protocol and the Inspection Protocol, unless otherwise provided for in this Treaty, and to acknowledge receipt of such notifications no later than one hour after receipt.
Each Party shall provide to the other Party, pursuant to subparagraph 3(b) of Article VIII of the Treaty, the following notifications concerning movement of items subject to the limitations provided for in the Treaty:
1. notification, no later than 48 hours after its completion, of the transit of non-deployed ICBMs and non-deployed SLBMs; launch canisters that remain after flight tests of ICBMs for mobile launchers of ICBMs; non-deployed mobile launchers of ICBMs; and mobile training launchers. Such notification shall include: the number and type of items involved; the facility from which the items departed; the date of departure; the facility at which the items have arrived; the date of arrival; the mode of transport; and, for each ICBM for mobile launchers of ICBMs, the data from the unique identifier;
It’s worth noting that Russia violated the START I treaty from beginning to end:
On Russia’s START violations, the report stated: “Notwithstanding the overall success of START implementation, a number of long-standing compliance issues that were raised in the START Treaty’s Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) remained unresolved when the Treaty expired on December 5, 2009.”
It’s galling that the Obama administration would go against an ally’s wishes, and provide Russia with serial numbers of their weapons, when you know that Russia would never return the favor.
Wolf Howling weighs in:
…the administration is now indicating, this is just a carryover of the notification provisions of START 1. But Britain was not a signatory to START 1 and their nuclear weapons, regardless of where they are being held, are not subject to “limits” of START.
Jake Tapper reports:
A knowledgeable source with the British government, speaking anonymously because his government has a policy of not commenting on Wikileaks, says his understanding of the policy conforms with that asserted by the State Department.
Captain Ed updates with:
Just FYI, here’s the part of the memo leaked by Wikileaks, emphasis mine:
10. (S) Orlov asked about the U.S. practice of transferring Trident II missiles to the United Kingdom (UK) in reference to the Russian-proposed agreed statement on the subject. Trout pointed out that most of the provisions contained in the proposed agreed statement were already covered by other sections of the treaty. He noted that notifications existed for the transfer and return of missiles to and from a third party. Additionally, he pointed out, the Russian Federation will receive unique identifiers for each of the missiles transferred to the UK, which was more information than was disclosed under START. Trout acknowledged that the proposal to send a notification of a UK flight test was not covered under START nor had it been included as part of this treaty but argued that this was the flight test of a missile owned by a third country. He said the United States had no legal responsibility for such a notification. Trout said he assumed the UK would send a notice to mariners and airmen prior to any flight test.
So yes, they got notified under the earlier START protocols of transfers of nuclear weapons — but they didn’t get the unique identifiers, which would quantify and specify the number of weapons transferred. That’s what the British refused to accept, and apparently what we agreed to do anyway.
Hat tip: Gateway Pundit