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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid