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Clinton: ‘We Must Go Forward’ On Nuclear Treaty

Senate Foreign Relations Commitee chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., listens as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes a statement on Nov. 17, 2010, following a meeting with the committee to discuss ratification of a new START.

Speaking on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Senate to act on a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia. The existing Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expired last December.

Clinton asked a lame-duck Congress to pass a new START that would provide for mutual inspections of the United States and Russia’s nuclear arsenals, and imposing set limits on each country’s stock of nuclear weapons.

But ratification of the treaty is not without its partisan hurdles. The Senate’s second-ranking Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, surprised the White House by calling for a delay in considering the new START until next year. In his statement, Kyl said he didn’t think there was enough time during the lame-duck session give “the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization.”

In response, Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Vice-President Joe Biden vowed to continue pushing for ratification in the 111th Congress. Mr. Biden said in his own statement that failure to address the treaty “would endanger our national security.”

While attending the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last weekend in Yokohama, Japan, President Obama called the treaty a “top priority” after meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In a speech in Prague this past spring. Mr. Obama said “stopping the spread of nuclear weapons” would help “move us further beyond the Cold War.”

Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the treaty in April.

The first START was signed in 1991 and led to a drastic reduction in nuclear warheads in both countries.

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