U.S. ratifies New START treaty

Trident missile submarines continue to patrol the oceans

The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to accept the New START strategic nuclear disarmament treaty between Russia and the United States (Peter Baker, “Senate Passes Arms Control Treaty With Russia, 71-26,” New York Times, 22 December 2010).

U.S. ratification of the treaty, signed by presidents Obama and Medvedev on April 8th, clears the path to Russian ratification and the treaty’s entry into force.

Although it is modest in scope, the treaty received wide support in the United States, with former secretaries of Defense and State, military leaders, arms control experts, and even California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar calling for its quick ratification.

Despite this broad, bipartisan support, however, the treaty squeaked through with just seven votes to spare (ratification requires 2/3 support of the Senate) due to the opposition of Republican senators, who appeared determined to deny President Obama any kind of foreign policy success regardless of the merits of the treaty itself.

The mere fact that the treaty survived, and thus other arms control efforts can now proceed (however slowly), can therefore be seen as something of a victory for supporters of arms control.

Further commentary on New START ratification:

Hans Kristensen, “Senate Approval of New START Moves Nuclear Arms Control Forward,” FAS Strategic Security Blog, 22 December 2010
Ernie Regehr, “‘New START’ an essential new start to nuclear arms control,” Disarming Conflict Blog, 22 December 2010

U.S. Department of Defense photo

Tags: New START treaty, Nuclear disarmament, Nuclear weapons