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The Midterms, New START and Obama's Nonproliferation Agenda

, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was sent to the Senate for consideration in May 2010, but its outlook is far from clear. To be ratified, the treaty must achieve two-thirds majority approval. But some treaty provisions, viewed by certain senators as restricting U.S. missile defense objectives, were already an obstacle to ratification six months ago. Even in its current configuration, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has demanded elimination of the treaty provisions related to missile defense and certain non-nuclear systems. Given Republican gains in the Senate following the midterm elections, these provisions will face even greater opposition come January.

Removing the treaty's missile defense provisions would contradict Russia's stated position on the subject. Upon signing New START in April of this year, the Russian leadership issued a unilateral declaration stating that the treaty's effectiveness would be conditional upon the U.S. vowing to refrain from advancing its missile defense assets "quantitatively or qualitatively." In other words, Moscow reserved the right to withdraw from New START under the treaty's "extraordinary events" clause if the increase in American missile-defense capabilities threatened to undermine Russia's nuclear strategic deterrence. ...

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