Clinton Presses Congress to Ratify Nuclear Treaty
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday reiterated the call she and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have made for the Senate to move quickly to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
“Our national security is at stake,” Clinton said at the State Department as she pressed the Senate to ratify the nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia.
The so-called “new START” sets new limits on ready-to-use, long-range nuclear weapons and establishes comprehensive verification procedures for both countries to verify which weapons the other possesses.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in April, but it requires ratification by both the U.S. Senate and Russian Duma to take effect.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to consider the treaty in mid-September, and the full Senate shortly thereafter, Clinton reported yesterday.
Clinton said she’s confident about the prospects for ratification, noting a bipartisan recognition that the new START “will advance our national security and provide stability and predictability between the world's two leading nuclear powers.”
“This is a critical point,” she warned. “Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia's arsenal.”
Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen share Clinton’s support for the new treaty.
Joining her in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May, they emphasized that the treaty allows the Defense Department to maintain a strong and effective nuclear deterrent while modernizing the weapons to ensure that they are safe, secure and reliable.
“This treaty reduces the strategic nuclear forces of our two nations in a manner that strengthens the strategic stability of our relationship and protects the security of the American people and our allies,” Gates said. He emphasized that the U.S. nuclear arsenal “remains a vital pillar of our national security, deterring potential adversaries and reassuring allies and partners.”
Mullen expressed his and the service chiefs’ support for the new pact.
“The chiefs and I believe the new START treaty achieves important and necessary balance between three critical aims,” Mullen told the Senate committee. “It allows us to retain a strong and flexible American nuclear deterrent. It … strengthens openness and transparency in our relationship with Russia. It also demonstrates our national commitment to reducing the worldwide risk of nuclear incidents resulting from the continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
Clinton reiterated yesterday that the treaty “in no way does or will constrain our ability to modernize our nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our friends, allies and partners.”