Senate stalling on vote ratifying new START treaty

Medvedev and Obama

The new START treaty has already been signed by Presidents Medvedev and Obama, but is stalling in the U.S. Senate. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A new version of the START treaty with Russia is languishing in the Senate. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty would renew the commitment between the United States and Russia to reducing and securing the nuclear arms each country holds. Moscow maintains the treaty must pass whole, or it won’t be honored.

New START treaty stalls in lame duck Senate

On the Senate agenda before the session recesses for the holiday is the new START treaty, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The START treaty update for 2010, referred to as New START, is currently languishing in the U.S. Senate, and it has been on the books since the summer, according to CNN. Senate Republicans are objecting to some provisions of the bill, one of them being that it could hamper development of missile defense. The President has given assurances that it does not, but it appears that GOP Senators want voting on the treaty to hold until new Senators can be seated.

Russia demands complete approval

The treaty was signed by President Obama and President of the Russian Federation, Dimitry Medvedev in April of this year. Since then, voting on the treaty has been put off 13 times, according to the New York Times. The Russian government has maintained that for the Russian legislature, the Duma, it has to pass without any modifications whatsoever for it to be acceptable in Moscow. If ratified, the number of nuclear warheads each side possesses would be reduced to 1,500 and the number of launchers reduced to 700.

Republicans object to treaty on diverse grounds

Republican Senators are the largest roadblock thus far. Senator John Kyl (R-Ariz.) objected to Russian demands for passing the treaty unadulterated, while others wanted language to be clearer about what type of nuclear weapons, tactical or strategic, were being reduced. Another objection was the possible compromise of missile defense, though no missile defense system has proven to be reliable.

Sources

CNN

New York Times

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