(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today pressed for ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ("START") before the end of the year during a roundtable discussion at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Shaheen has been a leading advocate for ratification of the Treaty, which would strengthen American national security by reducing the number of nuclear weapons aimed at American cities and allowing for the resumption of critical on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities that were suspended when the previous START agreement expired over a year ago. The event was co-hosted by the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs and the Institute of Politics, and was moderated by nuclear specialist and Belfer Center Director Graham Allison.
"The threat posed by nuclear weapons deserves our immediate and urgent consideration this year," said Shaheen. "Arms control treaties have a long history of strong bipartisan support and the New START Treaty should be no different. It is squarely in the national security interests of the United States, and ratification will send a strong message to our allies that America will continue to be a global leader in the effort to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation."
The original START agreement, which expired on December 5, 2009, was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and ratified by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 93-6. The agreement was the culmination of President Ronald Reagan's vision and a demonstration of his constant appeal to "trust, but verify" when dealing with Russia. The agreement reduced the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia and allowed U.S. inspectors on the ground in Russia to physically inspect and verify its nuclear arsenal.
Shaheen has repeatedly called on the Senate to ratify New START this year. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee responsible for NATO issues, she has participated in nearly a dozen open and classified hearings and has heard support for the treaty from high-ranking national security officials from seven former Presidential administrations, including Henry Kissinger, James Baker and others. Last week, she organized a group of her colleagues to discuss ratification of New START on the Senate floor, and she wrote a column on ratification of New START that appeared in yesterday's New Hampshire Sunday News. The Senate is expected to take up consideration of the agreement in the next several weeks.
The Treaty has earned the unanimous backing of United States military leadership, including the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency. America's military has been joined in its support by six former secretaries of state, five former secretaries of defense, the Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and seven former commanders of our nation's nuclear arsenal.