May 18th, 2010
01:42 PM ET
8 years ago

Top U.S. officials urge START ratification

Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.

Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.

Washington (CNN) - The proposed U.S.-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will enhance U.S. security and diplomatic credibility, and won't compromise U.S. nuclear force levels or undermine its missile defense, top U.S. officials said Tuesday as they urged the Senate to ratify the pact.

"We will strengthen our national security more broadly, including by creating greater leverage to tackle a core national security challenge, nuclear proliferation," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She joined Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"The choice before us," Clinton said, "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."

Signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8, the treaty would cut the total number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by about a third. It would fix a ceiling for each country of 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 deployed nuclear delivery vehicles.

The treaty will take effect only if ratified by lawmakers in both countries. In the United States, the Senate would have to approve the treaty by a two-thirds vote.

Gates said the treaty would foster transparency, predictability, strategic stability and access to Russian weapons and facilities.

Clinton, asked why the treaty should not be rejected, said it has built a "level of understanding" between Russia and the United States, most notably with respect to Iran. Clinton said the improved relationship helped the United States, Russia and other nations reach agreement on the latest U.N. draft resolution on Iran.

At the same time, the resetting of the U.S.-Russia relationship has not been good news for the nation's adversaries, she said.

If the treaty is rejected, she said, it would undermine U.S. leadership on the issue of nonproliferation.

Obama has called the treaty "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades." It builds on an agreement that expired in December.

But some top Senate Republicans have expressed skepticism about the accord.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in a statement in April that the administration "will need to meet three requirements if it expects favorable consideration of the START follow-on treaty."

"The Senate will assess whether or not the agreement is verifiable, whether it reduces our nation's ability to defend itself and our allies from the threat of nuclear armed missiles, and whether or not this administration is committed to preserving our own nuclear triad," McConnell said.

Clinton said similar treaties have had support in Washington over the years. She said the 2002 Moscow treaty was approved by a vote of 95-0, and the

1991 START treaty was approved 93-6. She said President George W. Bush began the process that led to the new treaty more than two years ago.

"I am not suggesting that this treaty alone will convince Iran or North Korea to change their behavior, but it does demonstrate our leadership and strengthens our hand as we seek to hold these and other governments accountable, whether that means further isolating Iran and enforcing the rules against violators or convincing other countries to get a better handle on their own nuclear materials," Clinton said. "And it conveys to other nations that we are committed to real reduction and to holding up our end of the bargain under the nonproliferation treaty."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Obama administration • Russia
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Marcus

    But the GOP senators know better about USA security than those people...

    May 18, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Pkm

    Keep talking to other countries do not be a bully listen and learn but be on your guard all the time

    May 18, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Hugo

    Meanwhile Iran stays the course of nuclear propagation, only in the name of energy of course....What a freaking joke, a bad joke on Israel that is, but of course that is depending upon what the meaning of is, is....

    Hang on America, only two and counting!

    May 18, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. tpbco

    Never trust a democrat to neg. arms treaties.

    Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggy", while lookinig for a rock.

    Peace thru STRENGTH.

    May 18, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Some Republican Guy

    Dagnabbit!!!! Those narcisstic elitest obamabots are at it again!!!! Of course they want to get rid of all of our nucular weapons!!! Then there socialist buddies in Russia can take over our country with the help of the Oprah watching union thugs and the illeagle aliens from ACORN!!!!! I don't want my grandbabies being indoctrinated into crypto-trotskyist dogmas that they have to watch on teleprompters in there pre-school!!!!! We'll all have to wait in line for days for a bowl of rice and some libtarded peeno nwar instead of good old American beer!!!!! Their going to take away our birth certificates and make us all into altruists like that smart Ain Rand lady warned us about!!!!!! Wise up real Americans!!!! Empeach them all before its to late!!!!!!

    May 18, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Sen. McConnell will do everything in his power to see that this does not occur, even though Reagan also wanted nuclear arms reduction. I am so sick of McConnell and his complete disregard for the safety of all of us.

    May 18, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Sgt. USMC

    McConnell needs to crawl under a rock and stay there.

    May 18, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Sgt. USMC

    Where was McConnell when bush was killing off our troops?

    What happened to our national security when cheney and gang decided to undermine basic human rights by torturing suspected terrorists?

    May 18, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Sgt. USMC

    Stop playing politics and agree that this is a good start to putting an end to the bad name the bush admin gave us.

    May 18, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't see why this treaty would be a problem. We still have enough weapons to destroy the world many times over. We should be trying to reduce out chance of killing everyone. Attacks are going to be from non-state actors like terrorists who don't care about life but care about death (how they die). I hope this treaty also includes ways to secure loose nuclear material.

    May 18, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Stacie

    This should be a no brainer, but the no brain crowd will find a way to be against this, too. FYI- you can't be pro-life, pro-nukes and pro-death penatly. That just doesn't make any kind of sense!

    May 18, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. MAC

    We need to upgrade our weapons and delivery systems as part of agreeing to a new start treaty. Our weapons systems are over 20 years old.

    May 18, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Mike

    Pathetic jokers representing this country from nobamby to stand by your man clinton. Come on 2012, I cannot stomach anymore of this comedy administration.

    May 18, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. Mike McKenzie

    So we get stronger defensively by disarming? Sort of like becoming a faster runner by sitting on the couch, don't you think?

    May 18, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |