New START Full-Court Press Fading?

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Given the legislative gauntlet facing the Senate, it’s hard to imagine New START will get an up or down vote before recess…but you never know.

From NTI:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring the New START treaty on nuclear weapons with Russia to the floor as soon as today, according to a spokesman, but Democrats might still put off a vote on ratifying the treaty until next year (see GSN, Dec. 14).

“What I am hearing is going to happen is they’re going to finish the tax issue [then] they’re going to put the START treaty on the floor for two or three days, never take a vote on it and then do that CR at the end of the week,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who backed ratification of the treaty in a Foreign Relations Committee vote and has joined in talks for floor action.

The White House has warned a delay in ratification could cause issues with the Russians and would present a security risk, because the treaty would allow mutual inspection on nuclear stocks. Critics of those claims say the prior START treaty has already lapsed for about a year without any evident consequences.

There are plenty of reasons for the Senate to more fully address nuclear weapons and their role in national security (of which New START would be an element) including:

The fact the treaty itself is a Cold War anachronism: a bilateral nuclear weapons treaty in an increasingly multipolar nuclear world.

The imbalance in “tactical” nuclear weapons with Russia holding an order of magnitude more.

The disconnect between the administration’s statements on New START’s missile defense effect versus Russian expectations.

Degraded transparency vis-à-vis New START’s predecessor.

A lack of urgency given Iran and North Korea are vitally more important issues at this point.

Now, it even appears Russian leaders are upping the ante on New START by delaying the verdict of Russia’s best-known political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, from today until Dec. 27 and as Jackson Diehl’s Washington Post column adds:

most experts believe that as a substantive matter, the treaty offers considerably more benefit to Russia than to the United States.


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