Obama Urges New START Ratification
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2010 President Barack Obama today stressed the importance of ratifying the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty this year, calling the treaty imperative to national security.
“The stakes for American national security are clear, and they are high,” Obama said in remarks at a White House meeting about the treaty. The treaty, Obama said, responsibly reduces the number of nuclear weapons and launchers the United States and Russia deploy, “while fully maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent.”
If ratified, he said, the treaty will provide the nation an in-place verification system to track
Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons, including on-the-ground U.S. inspectors.
“If we don’t [ratify the treaty], then we don’t have a verification regime -– no inspectors, no insights into Russia’s strategic arsenal, no framework for cooperation between the world’s two nuclear superpowers,” the president said. “In order for us to verify, we’ve got to have a treaty.”
Obama called the treaty a “cornerstone” of U.S.-Russian relations.
“Russia has been fundamental to our efforts to put strong sanctions in place to put pressure on Iran to deal with its nuclear program,” the president said. “It’s been critical in supporting our troops in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network. It’s been critical in working with us to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world, and to enhance European security.
The United States “cannot afford to gamble on our ability to verify Russia’s strategic nuclear arms,” Obama continued. “And we can’t jeopardize the progress that we’ve made in securing vulnerable nuclear materials, or in maintaining a strong sanctions regime against Iran. These are all national interests of the highest order.”
The treaty has been fully vetted and has the full endorsement of U.S. military leadership, Obama said, noting the presence of Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the meeting.
The president said his administration also is committed to modernizing the remaining U.S. stockpile and nuclear infrastructure, with a commitment to invest $80 billion toward that effort over the next decade, and an additional $4.1 billion over the next five years.
Obama urged a swift resolution and said he has asked Vice President Joe Biden to focus on the issue around-the-clock.
“Every month that goes by without a treaty means that we are not able to verify what’s going on the ground in Russia,” he said. “And if we delay indefinitely, American leadership on nonproliferation and America’s national security will be weakened.”