News / USA

Fate of New START Treaty Uncertain After US Elections

From left, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the new START Treaty, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 17 Jun 2010 (file pho
From left, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the new START Treaty, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 17 Jun 2010 (file pho

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed last April by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev. It provides for modest reductions in long-range nuclear weapons on both sides, as well as limits on so-called delivery systems - intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and bombers. The treaty also updated verification procedures to make sure that neither side cheats on the provisions of the accord.

The Obama administration has made U.S. Senate ratification of the New START agreement a key element of its foreign policy. Last September, after numerous hearings, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the pact and sent it to the full Senate, where 67 votes are needed for final approval. Just a few days ago, President Obama urged the Senate to approve the treaty before the end of this year.

This means the administration hopes for ratification during the so-called "lame duck" session of Congress - before the new Congress begins its work in January. The treaty also must be ratified by the Russian parliament.

During the recent midterm elections, Republicans "shellacked" the Democrats - a word used by President Obama. They took over control of the House of Representatives and gained enough seats in the Senate to cut into the Democratic majority.

The treaty is supported, among others, by Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He is trying to work with his colleagues in an attempt to get the necessary votes for passage. But some Republicans are opposed to the pact, saying it hinders U.S. plans for a missile defense system. Proponents say missile defense was not an issue addressed by the New START treaty.

Analysts say there is better than a 50/50 chance the treaty will be ratified during the lame duck session. Robert Legvold of Columbia University said, however, that if senators adopt amendments to the accord, that would force Russian lawmakers to do the same "and that kind of tit-for-tat could well sink the treaty."

Max Bergmann, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, said the key question is "whether the Republican leadership will do everything they can to stop this from coming to the floor. And if they are going to do that, will the Senate leadership on the Democratic side, do everything they can to force a vote."

Bergmann said, "It's a test for Republicans to see if they can actually govern the country, if they've matured enough beyond the direct opposition to Obama."

Some analysts say there are enough moderate Republicans who will vote to ratify the treaty. Legvold said the new START agreement has become a "bargaining chip used by those who are not in the end opposed to the agreement, but used in order to create leverage by which they can press the administration to deliver on defense spending, particularly modernization of nuclear forces."

Many experts said if the current session of Congress does not address the new START treaty, it would be far more difficult to ratify it during the next full session of Congress that convenes in January.

"What happens in the next session," said Bergmann, "is that you'll have to start the whole process all over again."

The treaty would have to go back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and more hearings will need to be held. "And the Senate math" said Bergmann "has also dramatically changed so that the level of bipartisan support you need in the next session would be far greater."

Political experts also said failure by the Senate to ratify the new treaty would be a serious blow to U.S.-Russia relations. Legvold said that's because "it will demonstrate to the Russian side that Obama can't deliver on some important elements, which will raise further questions about how effective he can be in pursuing a policy that they now believe is positive, that they are now pleased with, but probably don't feel they can count on."  

Legvold also said a treaty failure in the Senate would also be a blow to Russian President Medvedev "because he has advertised this new improvement in U.S.-Russia relations as a major accomplishment for which he is taking credit."

Legvold said the current positive momentum in the relationship between Washington and Moscow could begin "reversing itself if there were a number of setbacks and this [Senate non-ratification] would be a significant setback."

You May Like

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid