Is Lieberman Really Against New START?
This is what Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told MSNBC (no link yet):
LIEBERMAN: Yes. I mean, let me say first that I hope I can support ratification of the START treaty, but I’m not there yet. The basic idea that we would reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world of course is a desirable goal, but as we reduce the number of nuclear warheads we in the United States have in a world in which nuclear weapons are spreading, I think we’ve got to make sure that the remaining nuclear weapons we have work. And we’ve got — some of those warheads are decades old.
There has, in my opinion, been a debate within the administration about whether they want to commit to modernizing and in some places — cases — whether they want to commit to modernizing, in some cases replacing nuclear warheads. There’s some sense that maybe Secretary Gates lost one of those arguments within the administration.
I’ve talked to some colleagues and I don’t think there’s going to be 67 votes for the START treaty unless there’s a clear commitment from the administration that they’re prepared to do what’s necessary to keep our nuclear stockpile working, essentially.
To her credit, Andrea Mitchell pressed Lieberman on this — Gates, after all, supports both New START ratification and the Nuclear Posture Review, even if he shifted on replacement warheads — and Lieberman wasn’t prepared to contradict Gates. He eventually said that he just wants “reassurance” that they’ll maintain upkeep on the nuclear stockpile, which ought to come whenever the administration sends emissaries to the Hill to testify in favor of ratification of the treaty. Max Bergmann loses some patience with Lieberman here.