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Delaying the treaty would damage national security and put America at unnecessary risk

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, today led a group of Senators in urging ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ("New START") in the current congressional session.  The Senators cited critical national security concerns in delaying consideration of the treaty and warned of the consequences to America's nuclear security efforts around the globe.

"This is too serious a topic to be derailed by Senate process and politics.  Senators have had over 250 days to examine this treaty and there is simply no excuse for further delay," said Shaheen.  "Our men and women in uniform do their job every day of the year, holiday or no holiday.  They should be able to expect us to do ours."   

"Since December 6, 2009, we have not had U.S. nuclear weapons inspectors on the ground in Russia," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).  "Despite more than 20 committee hearings, some Senate Republicans say we are rushing to ratify and there is not more time this year.  If our troops can work through Christmas and New Years, we can certainly work to provide our advice and consent for a treaty that reduces the number of nuclear weapons pointed at the United States." 

"After countless delays, we have finally begun debate on the New START Treaty - a treaty which is supported by President George H.W. Bush, every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and our nation's military leadership," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL).  I hope we'll be able to ratify this treaty in short order and finally agree to stop playing politics with nuclear weapons and the safety of our cities and families."

"After eight months of exhaustive review of the New START Treaty, related documents and reports, we not only have an opportunity, but an obligation to provide consent for its ratification. It is long overdue; we need to regain our ability to provide boots on the ground verification of the Russian nuclear complex," said U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD).  "We must take this monumental step towards a world with fewer nuclear weapons. I urge my colleagues to vote in the interest of national security, to move swiftly, and to pass this treaty." 

"The most dangerous threat to America and to the world is for a terrorist organization or network to obtain a nuclear weapon," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). "Nuclear disarmament is among the most critical steps we must take to keep our nation and future generations safe. Ratification of the New START Treaty would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the American and Russian arsenals, bolstering our national security by reducing the risk of loose nuclear weapons and materials falling into the hands of hostile nations or terrorist groups."

"I came to the Senate to improve the lives of Minnesotans and part of that is ensuring their safety. That's why I'm imploring my colleagues to ratify the New START Treaty now," said U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN).  "Ratification will maintain our strategic stability with Russia, a key nuclear power, and it will strengthen our hand in our international nonproliferation efforts. Failure to ratify the treaty now needlessly imperils Russian cooperation on Iran, on securing loose nukes through the Nunn-Lugar program, and on other issues that jeopardize our national security."

"I am pleased to join my colleagues in voicing my strong and unequivocal support for New START, and urging the Senate to support immediate ratification.   As the newest member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees who did not have the opportunity to attend the past 18 hearings, I have learned enough since arriving in the Senate to know that this treaty is in America's best interest," said U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE).  "This is why numerous military and national security leaders on both sides of the aisle have confirmed that New START is essential to U.S. security in an increasingly dangerous environment. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this critical security imperative." 

In September 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the New START Treaty by a strong and bipartisan 14-4 decision.  The Committee thoroughly examined the treaty in conducting 20 open and classified hearings, featuring more than 31 expert witnesses. 

The treaty has the unanimous backing of our nation's military leadership, including the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Commander of Strategic Command, and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency.   In addition, the treaty has earned the backing of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, every living Secretary of State, five former Secretaries of Defense, and nine former National Security Advisors.

It has now been 376 days since the United States lost the ability to inspect Russia's nuclear arsenal with the expiration of the previous START Treaty.  New START would allow these critical inspections to resume and would make sure that the U.S. can - in the words of former President Ronald Reagan - "Trust, but verify" Russia's nuclear commitments.