Urging to re-START

Barack Obama has once again urged the Senate to ratify a key nuclear arms deal with Russia. In his weekly address, the President said ratifying the New START treaty was a matter of national priority.

He insisted failing to get the pact through would undermine American leadership on many global issues, not just nuclear.

A number of Republicans have threatened to delay ratification of New START, aiming to push the debate to January, when they will hold the majority.

Just in the beginning of December in a meeting with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, President Obama has already urged the Senate to ratify the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

“In the absence of START, without the new START treaty being ratified by the Senate, we do not have a verification mechanism to ensure what the Russians are doing – and they don’t know what we are doing – and when you have uncertainty in the area of nuclear weapons, that is a much more dangerous world to live in,” Obama warned. “Russia has co-operated with us on critical issues for our national security, like Iran sanctions, and the current relationships and trust that are built from the New START treaty spill over into a whole of other national security issues that are of vital importance to America,” he noted.

If the New START treaty fails to be ratified, it will seriously undermine the credibility of the current administration, believes Dominic Lieven from the London School of Economics.

“At the moment everything is less important than internal battles on Capitol Hill within the American political elite. They are simply obsessively hostile to each other and competing for power, nothing else really counts,” he said. “Therefore, international treaties, a whole range of political issues simply become a game, essentially, about who is in and who is out in Washington,” Lieven said.

“If the Senate throws out this [START] treaty, it will make the rest of the world believe that Obama is powerless,” he added.

The key treaty signed by Obama and the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April was hailed a major breakthrough in relations. It would see nuclear arsenals slashed by one third.