"October 1st marks 18 years since the U.S. Senate approved President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START. It also marks the 300th day since that treaty expired, cutting off U.S. weapons inspectors' access to Russian nuclear sites. Conservatives in the Senate are now blocking the restart of Reagan's inspections." So begins a recent article by Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which invests in peace and security around the globe. The irony is not lost to anyone.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee were to vote in mid-September on whether to send the new START Treaty to the Senate floor for ratification. The START Treaty passed that test, to Obama's approval, but it most likely won't be thought of until after the consequential mid-term elections in November, if then at all. The treaty would cut US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads by about one-third, to 1,550 each.
Since the original START Treaty expired, on-site monitoring of Russia's nuclear weapons and facilities was suspended, to say nothing of those of the U.S. Now that it's open knowledge that Russia is giving Iran nuclear materials, you would think that the U.S. Congress would show a bit more urgency and concern. In addition to removing hundreds of warheads from US and Russian nuclear arsenals and renewing and enhancing verification protocols, "New START" would also help improve cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism, a vital international security priority.
Will the U.S. Congress suddenly realize what is at stake in ratifying the START Treaty and permit a floor vote? Kevin Martin, the leader of Peace Action, says "the New START is a modest step forward toward the realization the President Obama's goal (and ours!) of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. It's a step that should be taken without further delay so the administration can begin work on the steps that must follow." It is that, but it is also a dangerous election-year gamble which no politician, especially conservative ones, can afford to lose.
So doing nothing makes sense for them and them only, even if it puts domestic and global security at risk. Please continue to contact U.S. Senators and ask them to support the New Start Treaty. Call 202-224-3121, or write your Senators at: US Senate, Washington DC 20510; or email them at Senate.gov. Your vote this November can make a world of difference.