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Clinton Says START Treaty is 'Beyond Politics'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking in Lisbon during the NATO summit, 19 November 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking in Lisbon during the NATO summit, 19 November 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Senate ratification of a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia should be "beyond politics."

Clinton spoke on U.S. television Sunday from Lisbon, Portugal, where she attended a NATO summit.  She said the treaty is a life-or-death issue, rather than a political one. And she said the questions that skeptical Republicans in the U.S. Senate are asking about the treaty deserve thoughtful answers.

On Saturday during the NATO summit, the European Union and Russia urged the United States to ratify the treaty, known as START.  The treaty has received strong support from NATO partners, top military officials and former administration officials.

But some Republican senators are reluctant to approve the deal, which would cut the nations' nuclear stockpile by about 30 percent.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that ratifying the treaty is a "national security imperative" that cannot be delayed.  He called on the Senate for quick passage of the deal.

Ratification requires support from 67 of the Senate's 100 members.

Senator Jon Kyl, the chief Republican negotiator on the issue, has resisted the president's efforts to hold the vote before the new Congress takes office in January with a stronger Republican presence.  Kyl has voiced concerns that the new START treaty would harm U.S. missile defense efforts.

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