Top leaders of the Opposition Republican Party on Friday indicated that they would oppose the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) when it comes for ratification in the US Senate.
Billed as the historic treaty by the ruling Democrats and non-proliferation experts world over, the New START treaty was signed by President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on Thursday. As per the treaty, both nations agreed to slash arsenals of strategic nuclear warheads.
“Whatever our ultimate conclusions on the START follow-on treaty, we continue to believe it will be difficult for it to pass the Senate without the fully funded robust nuclear weapons modernisation programme required by section 1251 of the National Defence Authorisation Act of 2010,” the two top Republican Senators, John McCain and John Kyl, said in a statement.
Noting that under the treaty, Russia and the United States have reduced the number of warheads and verification procedures significantly, the two Senators said both of these changes will have ramifications on US force structure and intelligence that it will need to evaluate. “While we were initially advised that the only reference to missile defence was in the preamble to the treaty, we now find that there are other references to missile defense, some of which could limit US actions,” they said.
Further, the Russians have unilaterally declared that the article which allows either Russia or the US to withdraw from the treaty is intended to allow Russian withdrawal if it believes new US missile defense capabilities pose a threat to its strategic nuclear forces.
“This has the potential to constrain improvements to US missile defenses, if objected to by the Russians,” McCain and Kyl said.