Barack Hussein Obama, capping a virtually failed Asian trip, assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that getting the Senate to ratify the START nuclear weapons treaty is a “top priority” of his administration.
FOX NEWSThe START treaty, which has been pending in the Senate for months,would reduce the limit on strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country from the current ceiling of 2,200.
“We think the START treaty is important for what it does as an arms control treaty, but we also think that symbolically for this to linger on would begin to bleed into other aspects of U.S.-Russian relations,” a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal, describing the “full-court press under way right now” in the Senate.
The treaty has drawn resistance, principally from minority Republicans.
Obama and Medvedev discussed the plodding pace of the ratification process, a problem that threatens to undermine U.S.-Russian relations and bleed into other issues, a senior Obama official told reporters shortly after the meeting.
There is an uneasiness within Russia on this issue and Medvedev is being well briefed about the dynamic of the Senate, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-door meeting. The official said that if there is progress in the lame-duck session, Russian lawmakers would be likely to quickly follow suit.
The two leaders also discussed containment of Iran in its purported pursuit of nuclear weapons, and Obama and Medvedev have no disagreement about how to proceed, according to the Obama official’s account. (In other words, DO NOTHING!)
Asked during his picture-taking session with Medvedev whether his administration was putting more money on the table for the nuclear program to get the START treaty through the Senate, Obama declined to answer.
Both Obama and Medvedev touted a close working relationship and friendship. Obama extended thanks to Moscow for cooperation on Afghanistan and on a host of international issues ranging from the Middle East to Sudan.
Said Medvedev: “It has been very pleasant for me to have this meeting and discuss a whole range of bilateral and multilateral issues with my colleague. Indeed, we have a very good relationship. We understand each other very well. It’s very important to attain agreement on a whole range of issues.” (Yes, especially on the disarming of America)
The administration is scrambling to get enough Republican support in the Senate to ratify the New START treaty before the Democrats’ majority shrinks by six in January.
Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) diffuses Obama’s time bomb for dismantling our nuclear arsenal.
Washington TimesPresident Obama‘s bid to win ratification of a new strategic arms pact with Russia suffered a major blow on Tuesday when a key Republican senator came out against holding a vote before the Senate adjourns at the end of the year.
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, considered the GOP point man in the debate, said he was deeply skeptical that there was enough time left in the lame-duck session of Congress to take up the complex New START, despite heavy lobbying from the White House and Senate Democrats to proceed.
Most observers expect treaty ratification to be more difficult next year, when Republicans will hold six more Senate seats.
He noted that Congress still must deal with a host of thorny tax and spending issues, leaving little time for a floor debate on the missile deal.Mr. Kyl has led a Republican push to get more money to modernize theU.S. nuclear arsenal and preserve the right to pursue missile-defense systems as a price for approving the treaty.
At the White House, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the failure to approve the treaty this year will “endanger our national security” and lead to less cooperation with Moscow. Without ratification, he said, U.S.inspectors will be unable to monitor and verify Russian nuclear-weapons activities. READ MORE