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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs