The United States Senate agreed to the New START Treaty during the last hours of the 111th Congress. The bilateral nuclear arms treaty passed with bipartisan support by a 71 to 26 margin. Today's vote came after months of highly partisan debate and despite a packed Senate schedule.
Adoption of this treaty demonstrates a commitment to responsible and cooperative U.S. global engagement. President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and Senators Kerry, Lugar, and Reid deserve special praise for their vision and leadership. New START's approval is also testament to the courageous 13 Republicans who placed national security above obstructive partisan politics.
A November CNN poll noted that 82% of Americans supported ratification. Before the Senate vote, tens of thousands of American weighed in. Citizens for Global Solutions National Outreach Director Anu Joshi said, "I want to thank the thousands of Citizens for Global Solutions supporters who called, wrote to and met with their Senators to support ratification of New START. Their voices were a key part of this victory."
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. It reduces the number of nuclear warheads to level not seen since I was born in 1954. The treaty requires that both parties limit their nuclear arsenals to 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers each, a two-thirds reduction from the original 1991 START treaty which expired in December 2009. New START institutes a new inspection and verification process.
The treaty garnered strong support from U.S. military leadership and numerous former secretaries of defense and state. The bi-partisan supporters of New START have all explicitly stated that the treaty will make the U.S. safer. Full Senate consideration came after more than 20 hearings and hundreds of questions to the administration.
New START is not just a step forward in reducing the unique destructive threat of nuclear weapons; it is a testament to the power of great cooperation on the global stage.
The Senate has not passed a major multilateral treaty since the Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified 1997. While consideration of New START is the most important arms control treaty to come before the Senate in more than a decade, there is much more work to be done on eliminating nukes. And other treaties including the Law of the Sea and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have yet to be considered. Now that the Senate has shown it can rise above the partisan bickering and pursue an agenda that benefits all Americans, and the world, it should set its sights on also adopting these important agreements to benefit our nation's economy, security, sustainability and credibility.