Senate urged to approve nuclear treaty
Published 05/11/2010 | 05:00
President Barack Obama called on the US Senate yesterday to approve a landmark nuclear weapons deal with Russia before a newly elected crop of Republicans take office in January.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which would cut the nuclear arsenals of the world's two largest nuclear powers, was negotiated this year to replace a similar treaty that had expired. Mr Obama appealed to incumbent Republican senators to support the treaty when Congress returns on November 15, even though some in the party oppose the new deal, fearing it could hamper US missile defence plans.
"This is not a traditionally Democratic or Republican issue, but, rather, an issue of American national security," Mr Obama said at a cabinet meeting, two days after Republicans captured the House of Representatives in congressional elections and made gains in the Senate.
"I'm hopeful that we can get that done . . . and send a strong signal to Russia that we're serious about reducing nuclear arsenals, but also send a signal to the world that we're serious about non-proliferation," Mr Obama said.
The new Congress takes office in January, while the next two months are known as a "lame duck" session, in which outgoing congressmen often shy away from major legislation.
But START faced uncertain prospects even in the current Congress.
Under the US constitution, treaties need the approval of two-thirds of the Senate.
The treaty restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30pc from a limit set in 2002.
However, a growing number of Republicans have voiced opposition, saying the treaty would impede America's ability to set up missile defences against potential aggressors. (© Daily Telegraph, London)