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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.