This morning President Obama will pop by the Roosevelt Room of the White House where he will meet with a bipartisan group of current and former administration officials who support his push for the Senate to ratify the START treaty with Russia.
They include not just natural supporters of the president’s push, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., and ranking Republican Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., but also former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, James Baker, and Henry Kissinger; former Secretaries of Defense William Cohen and William Perry; former National Security Advisor General Brent Scowcroft; the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright; and former Senator Sam Nunn, D-Ga.
Many Republican Senators have expressed misgivings about the treaty’s language on missile defense and a desire for more funding for missile modernization. Senior administration officials have added more than $4 billion for the latter priority and deny that the treaty impacts missile defense in any way.
Earlier this week, Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., issued a statement saying that “When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization. I appreciate the recent effort by the Administration to address some of the issues that we have raised and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Kerry, DOD, and DOE officials.”
Many administration officials suspect Republican opposition is rooted in a desire to embarrass the president.
The treaty – which was signed in April — requires both countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals from 2,200 deployed warheads for each country to 1,550 over seven years, a 30 percent reduction from the last treaty. It also requires the US and Russia their long-range missiles and launchers to 700 for each country as well.
The Vice President yesterday issued a statement that “Failure to pass the New START Treaty this year would endanger our national security. Without ratification of this Treaty, we will have no Americans on the ground to inspect Russia’s nuclear activities, no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, less cooperation between the two nations that account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and no verified nuclear reductions.”