Key New START Vote Set for Mid-September

September 10, 2010

This week's Update is excerpted from an important article with the same title written by Tom Z. Collina, Research Director of the Arms Control Association. You may access the entire article at

"Seeking to increase Republican support for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry [], the panel's chairman, announced August 3 that he would not bring the treaty up for a vote until after the Senate summer recess. The legislative break, which began August 7, ends September 12.

"Kerry said in an August 3 letter to committee members that they should be prepared to vote on the treaty September 15 or 16, leaving little time for a vote by the full Senate before senators plan to recess again October 8.

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed Kerry's decision, saying at an August 11 press briefing that it was 'a gesture of good faith and underscores the tradition of bipartisan support' for strategic arms control treaties. But she said there should be no more delays. [She said,] '[W]hen the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk. There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia, which only hurts our national security interests[.'] There have been no bilateral inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals since the original START, which was signed in 1991, expired in December.

"The committee vote was originally planned for August 4. All 11 Democrats and Sen. Richard Lugar [], the panel's ranking member, support the treaty. Two Republicans - Sens. Jim DeMint [] and James Inhofe [] - are opposed, and five Republicans have not declared their position.

"Kerry told reporters August 3 that 'we have the votes to report the treaty out of committee now,' but he moved the vote to September at the request of members who wanted additional time to review treaty materials that had yet to be delivered, including input from the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, and to get responses to almost 800 questions that have been submitted. Kerry said he wanted to 'build bipartisan consensus' around New START.

"Lugar expressed serious concern about the delay. [On August 3, he said,] 'The problem of the breakdown of our verification, which lapsed December 5, is very serious and impacts our national security[.']

"New START was signed by Russia and the United States on April 8 and would replace the 1991 START. New START would mandate reductions of both sides' deployed strategic nuclear warheads by about 30 percent and associated delivery systems by about 50 percent below previous treaty limits, and it would re-establish a system of inspections and data exchanges to ensure compliance."

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