President Ronald Reagan hastened the end of the Cold War and launched a new era of U.S.-led nuclear diplomacy with the former Soviet Union.
Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush negotiated, and the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly ratified (93-5, 93-6 and 95-0), three nuclear-arms-control treaties with Moscow. Those treaties have reduced deployed nuclear weapons from 12,000 in each country to 2,200, making the world a safer place.
So now we come to the next step – reducing nuclear weapons arsenals from 2,200 to 1,550.
The Senate should have ratified the New START pact before Labor Day, but now it is languishing. Republicans, backtracking from their legacy of arms-control achievement, are allowing one senator to block the treaty.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in April. Senate ratification is urgent because the original START pact expired almost a year ago – so U.S. inspectors haven't been visiting Russian facilities. Delays in re- establishing an inspection-and-monitoring system mean leaving so-called "loose nukes" throughout the former Soviet Union.
Since April, the Senate has held 12 hearings. It examined the text and technical annexes. It has reviewed a National Intelligence Estimate, a State Department report on verifiability and an analysis of Russian compliance with past arms-control treaties. Senators got answers to more than 900 questions.
This has been no rush to judgment.
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