Clinton and Gates tell Senate: Ratify New START

At this point, the New START arms-control treaty with Russia has been endorsed by:

  • All of the current U.S. military leadership
  • 7  former commanders of U.S. Strategic Command
  • 5 former defense secretaries
  • 3 former national security advisors
  • 6 former secretaries of state

By now it should be a no-brainer that the U.S. Senate should ratify this important treaty, but some senators still need convincing.

Thus, today in a Washington Post op-ed, Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are calling on the U.S. Senate to ratify New START. The duo write that the treaty will allow U.S. inspectors to resume inspecting Russian nuclear forces, including 18 short-notice inspections per year, after a break in inspections since the previous START Treaty -- negotiated by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- expired in December 2009.  New START will also put into effect a verification regime under which the United States and Russia will reduce their arsenals to 1,550 strategic warheads each.

Clinton and Gates write that the treaty will promote key U.S. national security objectives, including: "Reducing the number of deployed nuclear weapons while retaining a safe and effective deterrent; providing direct insight into Russia's nuclear arsenal; and creating a more stable, predictable and cooperative relationship between the world's two leading nuclear powers."

The two secretaries stress that the New START treaty will neither limit the United States in  deploying missile defenses nor constrain its modernization of nuclear forces. It also won't restrict U.S. deployment of conventional weapons, "including strike systems that could potentially hit a target anywhere on the globe in less than an hour."

This isn't a Democrat vs. Republican issue. Clinton and Gates point out that every U.S. president since the start of the Cold War has favored verifiable arms-control agreements and that the Senate has wholeheartedly approved these deals. In 1992 in a 93-6 vote, it approved the START Treaty, negotiated under Reagan and the first Bush. In 2003 in a 95-0 vote, it approved the Moscow Treaty, negotiated by George W. Bush. 

The Senate needs to push New START through so U.S. inspectors can get back to inspecting those Russian missile silos and the United States can continue advancing its national security.

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