FLANK DOCUMENT AGREEMENT TO THE CFE TREATY (Senate - May 14, 1997)

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to address Senate consideration of the CFE Flank Agreement...

As I made clear in the Foreign Relations Committee hearing, I found the way in which the flank agreement was negotiated--opening up an already negotiated treaty for revision because of the reticence of one party to live up to its commitments--deeply troubling.

Although I would agree with those who argue that it is necessary to revisit international agreements when there has been a material change in circumstances--and few would argue that the breakup of the Soviet Union does not count on this score--treaties, by their very nature, are only worthwhile if they are binding the minute they are signed.

The post-cold-war world may very well be more turbulent and fluid than the world which we are used to, but I hope that the way in which the flank agreement was opened for renegotiation--with one party not in compliance with a treaty which they had signed--does not set a precedent which will call into question other treaties which, after the fact, a state may wish to change.

I think that it is important for the Senate to go on the record in support of the binding nature of the treaty obligations which we and other states enter into--obligations which should be opened for renegotiation in only the most extreme of cases--even as we give our support to this agreement.

Second, in changing the CFE flank equipment ceilings to meet Russian security concerns, we must be careful to make sure that we have not increased the insecurity felt by other states in or bordering the flank zone.

In its original conception, the CFE Treaty was intended to make Europe safe from the dangers of a big war between East and West. I think that there is general agreement that CFE has been and will continue to be effective in this respect.

But the CFE Treaty, as revised, must not become part of a European security architecture in which Europe is made safe for little wars, between the large and the small, or as a tool for intimidation used by the strong against the weak.

If such a situation were to result from the flank agreement revisions, Europe would be less stable and secure, not more.

Third, as several of my colleagues have already pointed out, the inclusion of condition 9 regarding Senate advice and consent for the multilateralization of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is, I think, unwarranted and unwise.

It is unwarranted because the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is not connected in any way with the CFE. It is unwise because it calls into question whether the United States may attempt to reopen or substantively change a treaty because some now perceive that it is in our interests to do so.

There was an attempt to get this same language regarding the ABM inserted into last year's defense authorization bill. That effort failed. On its own, the Senate has already rejected this language. Now there is an attempt to resurrect this language and attach it to this treaty. The consideration of treaties is one of the highest responsibilities of the Senate, and I am disappointed that some of my colleagues have chosen to place petty politics above the interests of U.S. national security.

The ABM Treaty is the diplomatic foundation of our intercontinental ballistic missile reduction strategy. It was possible to negotiate and ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, and negotiate START II because of the strategic groundwork laid in the ABM Treaty. Abandoning or violating the ABM Treaty would threaten the strategic ballistic missile reductions under these two treaties, which, when implemented, would verifiably eliminate the intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying two-thirds of Russia's nuclear warheads.

I would have preferred to have had the opportunity to eliminate this condition from the final resolution of ratification, but, unfortunately, it does not appear that we will have this opportunity...

Even with these reservations, however, I find that the treaty merits support. The CFE, with the revised flank agreement, provides an invaluable tool for stabilizing European security and lessening regional tension. I would urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting in favor of this treaty.

[Page: S4466]