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The U.S. Senate Gets START

Obama and Medvedev

The U.S. Senate took up the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) this week. While the Obama administration hopes the Senate will ratify the treaty without a protracted process, missile defense advocates hope senators will ask the right questions and proceed only when they’ve received the answers.

Last month, the U.S. and Russia agreed to reduce deployed warheads to between 1,550, and limit intercontinental ballistic missiles to 700. Shortly after they reached the agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if “the U.S.’s build-up of its missile defense strategic potential in numbers and quality begins to considerably affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Russia would back out of the treaty.

The Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring says START approval “will turn on whether the Obama Administration’s commitment to modernizing the nuclear weapons infrastructure is adequate in the eyes of the Senate and will be sustained after ratification.” (Source)

If the administration provides no clear-cut answers, the Senate may request the negotiating record between the two countries. We’re naturally curious about whatever compromises the president made during his wrangling with the former Soviet Union.

“If a cohesive minority in the Senate can effectively challenge the Obama Administration on New START, even if the Treaty is ultimately approved by the Senate,” Spring writes, “the rest of the Obama Administration’s arms control agenda will be subject to more serious scrutiny.”

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