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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora