Obama “confident” of numbers for START ratification

President Barack Obama has addressed a bipartisan meeting in the White House, where he has urged Republicans to approve a key arms reduction deal with Moscow before the end of the year.

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Following gains in the mid-term elections, Republicans have been stalling the ratification of the New START treaty, which aims to cut the number of Russian and US nukes by a third.

Still, President Obama has expressed confidence that he and his party “should be able to get the votes”.

Earlier US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Senate and called the issue “essential” and not one “to be postponed”. Any delay, she said is undermining national security.

The new START treaty is one of Obama’s top priorities. It was signed by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama in April this year.

The deal that reduces US and Russian strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country from the current ceiling of 2,200 and allows mutually inspect each other’s nuclear arsenals has been repeatedly criticized by the Republicans. They argue it would limit US defense capabilities.