Clinton highlights urgency of arms treaty
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday she is confident the administration will win enough Republican votes in the Senate to ratify a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
Richard Lugar of Indiana is the only Senate Republican to publicly express his support for the treaty, known as New START, but Clinton said she has indications others will follow suit.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Clinton asserted that national security is at risk if the Senate does not ratify the treaty signed in April by President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.
Faced with a barrage of Republican criticisms of the treaty and their demands for more information, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled a vote in mid-September.
The committee must approve the treaty before the Senate could ratify it by the required two-thirds majority, or 67 votes. That would require support from at least eight Republicans.
Clinton said that the decision last week by the committee chairman, Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, to delay the vote was a gesture of good faith that underscores the push for bipartisan support.
“But when the Senate returns they must act, because our national security is at risk,’’ Clinton said. “There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia, which only hurts our national security interests.’’
The treaty would reduce the limit on strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country, down about a third from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would make changes in the procedures that allow the countries to inspect each other’s arsenals.