Welcome to the New Reset Order
"We know the president has significantly reduced funding and curtailed development of the U.S. national missile defense system, undermining our ability to effectively intercept long-range ballistic missiles. And we know the president has doubled-down on efforts to reduce our nuclear arsenal while failing to honor his promises to modernize the aging nuclear weapons complex," Kyl continued.
"But what we don’t know is what President Obama has in mind for after the election, when he would gain some ‘flexibility’ in negotiating with the Russians," the senator said. "Perhaps the Russians, in whom President Obama recently confided, could shed some light on his missile defense plans for the American people who otherwise have been left in the dark by this president."
It's clear that Putin will eat that "flexibility" for lunch, but Obama still has the "flexibility" to keep his end of the bargain to the Senate.
Yet nearly 17 months later, crickets.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), tried once in May 2011 to nudge the administration with the New START Treaty Implementation Act, and introduced a revised version of the bill this March: the Maintaining the President's Commitment to Our Nuclear Deterrent and National Security Act of 2012.
That legislation came after Obama's FY 2013 budget, which left out the funds to implement modernization of the arsenal.
“The long-term health and credibility of our nuclear deterrent depends on this bill, as does our national security. During the Senate’s consideration of the New START Treaty, the president made many promises to achieve support for Senate ratification," Turner said. "With the president’s FY13 budget request, it is now apparent that those promises have been broken. This bill will correct that and ensure the promises are kept."
The bill would require construction of key new plutonium and uranium facilities, prevent asymmetries between the sizes of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, and codify the president’s promise of full funding for modernization of the nuclear stockpile. It also would refuse funding for implementing the results of the president’s ongoing nuclear employment strategy review to allow ample time for Congress to consider it.
Four of the measure's 10 co-sponsors sit on Turner's subcommittee.
"One of the key reasons the administration is failing to meet its promises is that our nuclear weapons enterprise is broken," Turner added, noting that not only the nuclear force needs to be modernized but the infrastructure supporting it.
Republicans in the Senate are equally irritated that the New START ratification promises have not been kept, and that's not limited to lawmakers who were in the upper chamber when the deal was forged.
A group of freshmen wrote Obama on April 26, asking when he was going to come through on his commitments.
“For those who voted in favor of New START, the commitment to nuclear modernization was deemed essential,” said the letter, led by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). “Those of us who came to the Senate after the New START was ratified, and who were already skeptical of the treaty’s merits, will watch closely to see how these commitments are carried out. A failure to honor past nuclear modernization commitments will impact our willingness to support New START implementation and any future treaties related to our nuclear weapons complex.”
Also signing on to the letter were Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
The White House did not respond to a PJM request about the letter or Obama's plans to fund the modernization.
The week before, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) called on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) to hold an oversight hearing “to determine whether the administration has fully lived up to the expectations raised and commitments made in order to garner support” for the treaty.
“In the intervening months since this body provided its advice and consent, the administration has not requested the funding required to meet our nuclear modernization needs, the administration appears prepared to negotiate away pieces of our missile defense plans and there is no clearer path on progress in achieving the other conditions and declarations outlined in the Resolution of Ratification," Corker and Isakson wrote.
Obama will now meet Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Cabos, Mexico, on June 18-19. There, Russia will have ally China at hand.
But as the snub that the White House refuses to call a snub shows, Putin is ready to go mano-a-mano with an administration so eager for "reset" that it will sell out its own allies and make empty promises to lawmakers to push this perception of cooperation with a modern-day tsar.
It's the "flexibility" that Putin is eager to exploit as a withering weakness.