Floor and Committee Statements

Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, I rise to talk about two specific subjects, one of   them a very troubling comment picked up by a microphone that was not believed to   be live, made by President Obama to President Medvedev of Russia. It is a   troubling comment to me because I spent most of the previous year in the Senate   as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee working on the New START treaty,   which the Senate adopted with 71 favorable votes a year ago, a treaty that is a   treaty on offensive missiles, not defensive missiles nor strategic missiles.      

   It is a treaty that began under Ronald Reagan, was ratified by George H.W.   Bush shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was extended under George W.   Bush and terminated a couple of years ago and needed to be renewed. It is a   treaty that did three things. First of all, it reduced offensive weapons held by   the Russians and the Americans; second, gave us unilateral access to Russia and   the Russians unilateral access to us to trust but verify the warheads that   existed; and third, new identification systems and holographs that made it   almost impossible to hide or mimic nuclear warheads. It is a comprehensive   treaty that is important to America, important to the free world, and, quite   frankly, important to Russia.      

   I would like to quote from the Washington Post exactly what the President   was picked up as having said when he was talking to Mr. Medvedev after their   official conversation.      

   I quote from the Washington Post:   

   On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be   solved--   

   I underline, nobody knows what ``this'' means--   

   but it's important for him to give me space.   

   President Medvedev said back:   

   Yeah, I understand.   

   Then the President said the following:   

   This is my last election. After my election, I [will] have more   flexibility.   

   That flexibility obviously refers back to ``this,'' which was in the first   comment.      

   So as a continuing member of the Foreign Relations Committee, one who is   proud of the work we did on the START treaty but one who understands   particularly the commitments of the country, I think it important that the   President clarify what ``this'' meant and how flexibility would be applied if he   were reelected as President of the United States for this reason: In the   President's letter to the Senate to endorse the New START treaty and ask for its   ratification, he said the following: that he pledged in his message to the   Senate on the New START treaty ``to continue development and deployment of all   stages of the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe, including   qualitative and quantitative improvements to such system.'' That is a unilateral   statement.      

   I met with Vice President Joe Biden in his office outside this   Chamber during the debate. Vice President Biden committed the   administration in terms of continuing on missile defense. I met with Secretary   of State Clinton. I met with Ellen Tauscher, who was one of the chief   negotiators and chief operatives, a former Member of the House working for the   State Department. There was never any wiggle room nor need for flexibility. The   United States was committed to missile defense in Europe, we remain committed to   this day, and it is important that the President reaffirm that and it not be in   any way confused or blurred by the comments picked up by that microphone. It is   too important to the country, it is too important to this body, and it is too   important to me for us to be able to trust the words of each other, not to find   out sometime later that they want flexibility to possibly move from those words.   Nuclear defense clearly is very sensitive with the Russians, and I understand   that. If there are negotiations on that, that ought to be in the open, not after   we have time for flexibility. It ought to be forthright.      

   I also would like to add that there is another missile defense issue that   looms out there that we have to pay attention to. Israel is surrounded by   missiles with warheads to injure the people of that country and take the country   down. A missile defense system for Israel would be equally as important as   missile defense deployment would be for the Eastern European countries.      

   So missile defense was a vision of Ronald Reagan's, continued under every   President of the United States since Ronald Reagan, and it is important that we   remain committed to it. I believe it is particularly important to understand   what the President said, particularly on missile defense, what ``this'' meant   when he asked for flexibility, because there should be no wiggle room in our   desire to protect and defend democracy not only in the United States but around   the world.