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12 Aug, 2010 08:36

Delaying START ratification hurts US security – Clinton

Delaying START ratification hurts US security – Clinton

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has urged the Senate to ratify the new American-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty, START. No access to monitor the Russian nuclear arsenal puts US security at risk, she said.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START, will advance US national security “and provide stability and predictability between the world’s two leading nuclear powers,” Clinton told a media conference in Washington on Wednesday.

“This treaty will provide for inspections that the United States would not otherwise be able to hold,” she added, as published on the State Department’s website.

The previous bilateral nuke treaty expired in December last year. In April 2010, following months of tough negotiations and ironing out differences, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed a new agreement, which however is yet to be ratified by the two countries’ lawmakers.

“It… has been more than eight months since we have had inspectors on the ground in Russia,” Hillary Clinton stressed. “This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia’s arsenal,” she underlined.

Moscow says it is ready to put the treaty into effect, but wants to do so at the same time as Washington. The American side has so far been delaying the process. Last week, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced it would push back the vote on the START to mid-September. After the committee approval, the nuclear arms reduction deal will be sent to the entire Senate.

Hillary Clinton called on the lawmakers to act quickly. “When the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk. There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia which only hurts our national security interests,” Clinton said.

To be ratified, the treaty –which is a priority for president Obama – should be backed by 67 senators, including at least eight Republicans, the majority of whom have so far been raising concerns over the details of the deal.

Hillary Clinton assured that the new START will not constrain America’s ability to modernize its “nuclear enterprise or develop and deploy the most effective missile defenses for the sake of our security and for our allies, friends and partners.”

The US top diplomat believes that the delay has not affected the Moscow-Washington relations, the so-called “reset”.

“I think that the reset that we have pursued which has produced significant progress on major issues, most particularly the new START treaty, is moving forward,” she told the journalists.

The US-Russia treaty reduces the possession of both states’ stockpiles over seven years to 1,550 warheads each, which is about 30 per cent less than the 2,200 allowed by the previous agreement. Also under to the deal, the number of deployed ballistic missiles should not exceed 700 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, and 800 SLBM launchers and heavy bombers. The number of delivery vehicles will be reduced by more than a half.