Why are Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and other Republicans trying to block the lame-duck Senate from ratifying the New START arms-control treaty with Russia?
After all, the treaty, which has been years in the making, calls for only modest reductions in deployed warheads, from 2,200 to 1,550. Its most important element is the restoration of “verification” allowing inspections and other information exchanges about both countries’ arsenals. It would also commit $84 billion over 10 years to “modernize” our nuclear-weapons arsenal—far more than we think is necessary.
In any case, ratification is clearly a national security issue. Continuing to reduce the number of nuclear missiles and resuming verification are vital to our future safety. In addition, failure to approve this treaty would undermine U.S. credibility in the effort to rally support—including from Russia—in the international effort to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.
The Republicans are supposed to be the party of national security, but in this case, they are abandoning that role in favor of sheer obstructionism. It’s just another example of that party’s willingness to sacrifice the national good in its effort to unseat President Barack Obama.
The treaty has been through countless briefings and 21 Senate hearings. Sen. Kyl’s statement that there isn’t enough time in the lame-duck session to vet the treaty’s many complexities is absurd on its face.
The president should move forward with a vote in the lame-duck Congress and challenge the Republicans on their obstructionism. As Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican and the Senate’s foremost expert on arms control, put it, a failure to act would place the country “in some national peril.”