News / USA

Obama Officials Press for START Ratification

Senior Obama administration officials called on the U.S. Senate Tuesday to ratify the New START Treaty with Russia, which would impose further reductions in the two countries' long-range strategic nuclear arsenals and provide new verification procedures. The officials faced tough questions from senators concerned that the treaty does not cover tactical nuclear weapons and that it could limit the U.S. missile defense system.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the options before them are stark.

"The choice before us is between this treaty and no treaty governing our nuclear security relationship with Russia; between this treaty and no agreed verification mechanisms on Russia's strategic nuclear forces; between this treaty and no legal obligation for Russia to maintain its strategic nuclear forces below an agreed level," said Clinton.

But the approach presented by Secretary Clinton and other officials was not all in that vein. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, offered the military view.

"The chiefs and I believe the New START Treaty achieves important and necessary balance between three critical aims: It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent. It helps strengthen openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia," said Admiral Mullen. "It also demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk of nuclear incidents resulting from the continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons."

Some of the Senate opposition to the treaty stems from a separate Russian statement that it will withdraw from the accord if the developing U.S. missile defense system threatens its offensive capability. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has worked on arms control issues off-and-on for 40 years, said Russia has long opposed U.S. missile defense efforts, and he summarized the reason this way.

"It's because we can afford it and they can't. And we're going to be able to build a good one, and are building a good one, and they probably aren't," said Gates. "And they don't want to devote the resources to it so they try and stop us from doing it through political means. This treaty doesn't accomplish that for them."

The officials said the treaty contains no restrictions on the U.S. missile defense program. But Secretary Gates also said the program is not aimed at rendering Russia's nuclear deterrent useless. Rather, he said, it is aimed at preventing rogue states, like Iran and North Korea, from attacking the United States or its allies with nuclear weapons. Senators also criticized the administration for not including any limits on short-range tactical nuclear weapons in the treaty. Admiral Mullen acknowledged that shortcoming.

"We seized an opportunity to come together and get to this treaty. It isn't everything that everybody could have wanted," he said.

But the officials said they have already informed Russia they want to negotiate a separate treaty on reducing tactical nuclear weapons. And they stressed that if the Senate ratifies the treaty they believe it will put both the United States and Russia in a stronger position to press for global adherence to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to achieve consensus on sanctions against nations that do not abide by the treaty.

In addition, Secretary Clinton noted that although the United States and Russia have 90 percent of the world's long-range nuclear weapons, she now wants to pursue similar treaties with China and other nuclear weapons states.

Senate supporters of the treaty said they hope to have it ratified during the next few months, or by the end of the year at the latest. Past weapons treaties with Russia have also been controversial, but have been ratified by wide margins.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More