New START Ratified by US Senate

On December 22, 2010, very close to the end of the last Congressional session, the US Senate ratified New START (New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).  By signing this bilateral treaty, the US and Russia have agreed that each will reduce the number of long-range nuclear warheads from 2200 to 1550 as well as the number of nuclear weapon launchers to 700 within seven years of ratification.  The treaty also creates a new weapons inspection and monitoring program.  New START follows the first START of 1991, which expired in 2009.  President Obama acquired the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate in late December after thirteen Republicans joined the unanimous Democratic vote in favor of ratification.  The treaty is now before the Russian Parliament for ratification.

Ratification of New START did not occur without strong debate in the Senate.  Republicans generally opposed the treaty because they argued it had various shortcomings including an unsound verification program, no terms concerning the reduction of smaller tactical nuclear weapons, and language, which could allow Russia to limit US missile defense options.  Democrats favored ratification arguing the treaty promotes nuclear disarmament and creates the opportunity for further discussion on tactical weapon reductions not covered by the treaty.

Do you think that New START will strengthen US national security?

2 comments

  1. I don’t believe that treaties which culminate in the reduction of weapons have a substantial impact on national security. If the United States and Russia are both comfortable with reducing the number of long-range nuclear warheads, that simply means that the respective governments don’t see any advantage in stockpiling an additional 650 warheads. In today’s increasingly violent world, a country like the United States is not going to jeopardize national security in order to alleviate possible tensions with another sovereign. However, I do believe that programs requiring weapons inspection are necessary and do promote national security. Bodies like the U.N. Special Commission on Weapons affirmatively require compliance with international laws and treaties. Conversely, partial disarmament reflects a nation’s recognition of its overabundance.

  2. I think that national security will be strengthened for sure in the sense of US health risks. With fewer nuclear warheads within the US, there will be less exposure to radiation by the people who work and live around the warheads. There will also be less risk of a possible malfunction of the storage system within the states.

    Less warheads in Russia will also mean that there are fewer for terrorists to steal, which does improve security greatly. Russia and the US have had some disagreements, but with both countries wanting to improve relations, New START is the beginning by both countries showing an effort to reduce nuclear weapons to make the other feel safer.

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