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Federation Of American Scientists Urges Nuclear Weapons Treaty Before New Year

December 16, 2010

The Senate yesterday voted in favor of proceeding to consider the New START treaty. The vote of 66 to 32 demonstrates strong support for the treaty, which will have to pass by at least two-thirds of Senators voting in favor to win consent for ratification.

Ratification of the New START treaty is vital to moving U.S.-Russian relations forward and strengthening the international nonproliferation regime.

The treaty will reduce the number of counted strategic nuclear warheads each country can deploy to no more than 1,550 seven years after the treaty enters into force. Russia currently deploys approximately 2,500 deployed strategic warheads. Ratification will reduce the number of Russian nuclear warheads that can hit the United States and its allies on short notice.

Ratification would also return U.S. inspectors to Russian nuclear weapons facilities, where they have been prevented from monitoring Russian nuclear forces since the former START I treaty expired more than 12 months ago. Reinstating U.S.-Russian on-site inspections of each other’s nuclear weapons sites is vital to verifying compliance and preventing misunderstandings and worst-case military planning.

“After extensive hearings and detailed questions and deliberations, the Senate has vetted the treaty fully,” said Hans M. Kristensen, director of FAS’s Nuclear Information Project. “Now it is time for the Senate to demonstrate responsible leadership and ratify the treaty so that the United States and Russia can begin the next rounds of arms control talks about non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear weapons.”

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