Republican Senator Bucks US Nukes Treaty with Russia

New Start,, Obama's anti-nuke treaty with Russia, is hardly controversial–rather, it's widely seen as a positive step towards repairing international relations. But in a surprise move that threatens to disrupt peace proceedings, Arizona Republican John Kyl is now hedging his support for one of the president's most important foreign policy achievements. And he's doing it for the self-interest of the GOP, in an attempt to push the vote on the treaty into 2011:

“When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame-duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to Start and modernization,” Mr. Kyl said in a statement. The senator added that he would continue to negotiate with administration officials for a possible vote next year.

A failure to approve the treaty in the departing Senate could undermine Mr. Obama’s broader campaign to curb nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them. The treaty, which would trim American and Russian strategic arsenals and restore mutual inspections that lapsed last year, was supposed to be the first, and easiest, step in a long-term effort to bring an end to age of nuclear arms.

Far from a real peace coup, the treaty would keep the countries from “deploying more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers each,” but in Obama's efforts to strengthen ties with Russia, it is meant to be a landmark. Kyl, the top Republican voice on the topic, is not just pulling bi-partisan rabbit tricks–he's holding out for more money for our current nuclear complex.

In recent days, the administration dangled an additional $4 billion in hopes of winning his support, but Mr. Kyl held out. The administration has also promised to spend more than $100 billion over 10 years upgrading the triad of nuclear weapons: submarines, bombers and missiles.

Kyl's comments drew anger from the White House, Hillary Clinton and members of the Foreign Relations Committee, who may have trouble drumming up support from the GOP in the New Year. Obama's seeking a meeting with him this week in hopes of moving the issue forward. Read more at The New York Times and the AP.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at November 17, 2010, 3:36am

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