President Obama pushes START, missile defense, at NATO Summit

By Jared

Nov 19, 2010 3:37pm

In remarks to the press pool in Lisbon, where he’s attending the NATO summit, President Obama announced a new development with missile defense strategy and continued to push for the Senate to ratify the New START nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia.

Mr. Obama reiterated that the treaty is a “national security imperative for the United States,” because it will reduce US and Russian nuclear stockpiles, allow the US to inspect Russia’s missiles, and will build on the “re-set” cooperative relationship with Russia – which has helped in pursuit of sanctions against Iran and in the mission in Afghanistan – as opposed to harming that relationship.

He then suggested that the treaty is also a security imperative for NATO members.

“The message I’ve received since I’ve arrived from my fellow leaders here at NATO,” the president said, “is that “New START will strengthen our alliance and strengthen European security.”

In what was an understated jab at Republican senators threatening to block START from a vote because of their stated concern that the treaty will impair US plans for missile defense in Europe, the president stated that “nobody is more aware of need for strong secure and democratic Europe than our central and European allies.”

The president then quoted Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski who recently wrote that the treaty “will bolster our country’s security and that of Europe as a whole.”

The president said that a failure to pass the treaty would not only harm security it would put at risk the substantial work the US has accomplished “in partnership with Russia.”

President Obama, invoking Article 5 of the NATO charter — an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all – also announced that the US would be “backing up that commitment with new capabilities” in missile defense that are “strong enough to cover all NATO territory and populations as well as the United States.”

–Jake Tapper

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