News / USA

Democrats Push For Approval of Arms Control Treaty This Year

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, flanked by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., talks about the START Treaty following their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, 17 Nov 2010
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, flanked by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., talks about the START Treaty following their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, 17 Nov 2010

Multimedia

The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on the U.S. Senate to ratify a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. Called the New START treaty, it builds on a landmark arms control agreement signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1991.

The initial accord expired last year, and the fate of its successor might hinge on the ability of the U.S. Senate to act in a brief, end-of-year session. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a high-profile visit to urge prompt ratification of the treaty.

It is called a "full court press" - an all-out administration effort to get key legislation approved by Congress. On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden issued a strongly-worded statement warning of grave consequences for U.S. national security if the New START accord is not ratified. The next day, Secretary of State Clinton underscored the point in a corridor near the floor of the U.S. Senate.

"It is, to me, essential that we bring this [treaty] before the Senate. For anyone to think we can postpone it or avoid it is, I am afraid, vastly underestimating the continuing [nuclear] threat that is posed to our country," said Clinton.

Under the New START treaty, U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals would be reduced by as much as a third.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, highlighted the treaty's benefits and the dangers posed by the status quo.

"Here we have a treaty that, for the first time, provides additional ability to count warheads on both sides," said Kerry. "Here we have a treaty that allows us to have a spot, [unannounced] random inspection to find out what the other side is doing.  But for one year now, we have had no inspections, no American boots on the ground in Russia able to protect American interests."

But some Senate Republicans are less than enthusiastic about the treaty. Jon Kyl of Arizona issued a statement Tuesday, saying that the Senate's busy schedule does not permit full consideration of the treaty before the new Congress convenes in January.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said he favors arms control, but that he has concerns about New START treaty.

"I think it would be good to have a treaty," said Graham. "But this treaty cannot infringe on the ability of the United States to deploy missile defense systems we think are vital to our national security or [that of] our allies. There is some language in the treaty that creates doubts in [Senate] members' minds. The second hurdle is modernization. Many Republicans, like myself, believe we would be better off with a treaty than without [one, but] - only if we modernize our nuclear deterrent force."

The Obama administration has signaled it intends to increase an $80-billion plan to upgrade and modernize America's nuclear infrastructure.

One of the few Republicans to support ratification of the New START accord is Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who said he, too, supports nuclear modernization. He adds, however, that the United States can act to improve nuclear security by ratifying the treaty.

"This is very serious. 13,300 [Russian] nuclear warheads aimed at us - our cities, our military installations - everything we have. Thirteen-thousand-three-hundred. Any one of those warheads could obliterate the city of Indianapolis, Indiana [The state's largest city]."

The U.S. Constitution mandates that treaties be negotiated by the executive branch and ratified by the Senate.

Most analysts say ratification will be more challenging come January, when the Democrats' Senate majority will be greatly reduced.

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti:

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs