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The Administration's Nuclear Games

And Laura Rozen's folly.

8:43 PM, Feb 22, 2010 • By MICHAEL ANTON
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Rozen quotes several of the vice president’s anti-testing lines from last week’s speech without, apparently, realizing that those, too, were rhetorical ploys.  The vice president was attacking a position that no one holds because it is easier than addressing the real disagreements that still loom.  To the extent that one of those disagreements concerns testing, it is between those who think should the U.S. make our own voluntary moratorium legally binding by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which the administration wants), and those who think we should maintain the moratorium as a matter of U.S. policy but also preserve our flexibility by not ratifying the CTBT.

But the CTBT is likely to go nowhere this year and for the foreseeable future.  The real fight this year will be over the RRW.  And contra Rozen, it is not over—and it’s not clear that Gates has taken Obama’s side.  Indeed, the smart money is betting that the reverse will happen.  The administration is getting close to finishing a big new arms control treaty with the Russians.  The Gang of 41 has made clear that the price of ratification will be the RRW—or something like it.  Since treaties need 67 votes, they would seem to be in a strong position to get what they want.

So here are two predictions, one about as solid as an Obama-era T-bill, and the other you can take to (an FDIC insured) bank.  First, no RRW, no treaty.  Second, it will be called anything other than RRW, but it will accomplish all of the same things.

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