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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid