Did Obama Sellout Britain To Russia On Sub Nukes? Nope, Says State Department

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Conservative blogs and the British press are agog over a report in London’s Daily Telegraph that the U.S. provided certain information about the United Kingdom’s submarine-based nuclear missile stockpile to Russia as part of recent arms negotiations. Matt Drudge nearly blew a siren on the “Secret Deal” report, which includes no quotes from either U.S. or British government sources confirming, denying or adding any context to the claim, which was apparently gleaned from a leaked document provided by Wikileaks.

As is their habit with just about any report about American-British relations, the Telegraph jumps to the conclusion that this revelation “sheds new light on the so-called ‘special relationship,’ which is shown often to be a one-sided affair.” Perhaps the last part is true, but the U.S. State Department maintains that there is little news behind the breathless headlines. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley emails TIME:

This is bunk. Under the 1991 START Treaty, the U.S. agreed to notify Russia of specific nuclear cooperation with the United Kingdom, such as the transfer of SLBM’s [submarine launch ballistic missiles] to the UK, or their maintenance or modernization. This is under an existing pattern of cooperation throughout that treaty and is expected to continue under New START. We simply carried forward and updated this notification procedure to the new treaty. There was no secret agreement and no compromise of the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent.