Senator John F. Kerry said today he intends to hold preliminary hearings on an emerging nuclear arms treaty after Easter recess, with the goal of ratifying it by the end of the year.
Negotiators from the United States and Russia have reached agreement on a treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the Associated Press reported today, citing unnamed officials. The new deal is expected to lower strategic nuclear warheads to about 1,500 for each side, far below the 6,000 allowed under the old treaty, which expired in December. All major issues have been resolved, officials in Washington and Moscow said.
Once signed by President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, the treaty would face ratification votes in the Russian Duma and the US Senate. Kerry, as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would be the point person for the administration to get the two-thirds vote needed for ratification from a Senate that is highly charged, both with partisan fervor and with suspicion of Russia.
The Massachusetts senator and his Republican counterpart on the committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, discussed the treaty with Obama at the White House for about an hour this morning.
"A well-designed treaty will send an important message to the rest of the world that America is prepared to lead efforts with key stakeholders to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons," Kerry said in a statement released after the meeting.
"The administration has done an excellent job advancing America’s security interests and I believe the final product will deserve broad bipartisan support,'' he added.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.