Senate moves to consider US-Russian nuclear deal
The US Senate is set to begin deliberating the ratification of the START treaty, signed together with Russia in early April. Both the Kremlin and Washington have expressed the desire to expedite its passage.
The treaty’s ratification would promote Barack Obama’s plans to rid the world of nuclear weapons and see a significant improvement in US-Russian relations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened the hearings in Washington.
“I am pleased to announce to this committee that we have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Clinton said, referring to the agreement on a sanctions regime against Iran.
However, Rouzbeh Parsi, an expert on Iran at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris, thinks new sanctions will not convince Tenhran to halt its nuclear program.
Estimates put the earliest possible time of the ratification at the end of August when Congress is set for recess.
However, John Isaacs, the Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, thinks the ratification of the treaty in the US “ultimately will be approved – but it will not be quick and smooth.”
He also added that if everything goes well, “we would hope that the treaty might get approved in July – before a summer break for the Senate.”
Isaacs also stressed that there are several obstacles that can postpone the ratification: “We do think that it is going to happen in 2010, but we are not quite sure when.”
Moreover, the treaty has already received criticism from the Republican Party and, as Dmitry Suslov from the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy believes, it is bound for a rough ride in Congress.
“Many high-ranking Republicans have already raised their concerns,” said Suslov. “In their opinion, the Obama Administration has made more concessions to Moscow than necessary. And Moscow is, in their opinion, the major winner.”