U.S. Senate approves New START

The Senate passed the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia today, with a vote of 71-26.

See BASIC’s Press Release, December 22:


From December 20: Missile Defense and overall relations with Russia have been some of the key topics that have fueled the occasionally fiery debate on the nuclear arms treaty between Russia and the United States. Several top Republicans, including party whip Sen. Jon Kyl and his colleague from Arizona, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain, have engaged in substantial debate, arguing that the treaty restricts options for missile defense in a way that could jeopardize U.S. interests and have also raised doubts about Russia abiding by the treaty. Sen. McCain failed to win sufficient support for his amendment (co-sponsored with Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming) to delete the part of the Preamble that is related to missile defense. Other amendments were coming up as of the writing of this brief.

Democrats including Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (Michigan) and Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (Massachusetts), along with his Republican colleague on the Committee, Ranking Member Sen. Richard Lugar (Indiana), have beat back criticisms, contending that passage of the treaty will allow for a strong verification system that will help to build confidence around compliance. They also cited the statements of military leaders who have said that the treaty does not restrict the United States from carrying out its plans for strategic missile defense.

On December 18, U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter to Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), who has said that he opposes the treaty in part because it will directly and implicitly give Russia too much influence over U.S. missile defense developments. Pres. Obama tried to reassure Sen. McConnell, arguing that the recent decision taken by NATO to accept the European Phased Adaptive Approach intended to protect allies was a reflection of his Administration’s commitment to missile defense. Pres. Obama added that these and other U.S. missile defense systems were not intended to upset the strategic balance with Russia, and noted his disagreement with the spirit of Russia’s unilateral statement (not a binding part of the agreement) that warned it would leave the treaty if U.S. missile defense deployments went too far. He also highlighted efforts to work with Russia on missile defense cooperation.





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