FLOOR STATEMENT BYU.S. SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDINFOREIGN RELATIONS CONSIDERATION OF THE START TREATY
I rise today to express my support for START, the nuclear arms reduction treaty pending before the Senate.
This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will convene to vote on this New START Treaty. Since the Treaty was signed by the United States and Russia in April, both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees have conducted more than a dozen hearings, both open and classified, to examine the essential goal of this Treaty - to advance the national security of the United States.
After hours of testimony from some of the most knowledgeable people in and out of the government, as well as public statements of support from countless experts, we can say with great confidence that the Senate's ratification of the START Treaty is in our national interest.
Witnesses who testified before the Committee come from wide backgrounds of the government, academia, and private industry. Former government officials, both civilian and military, who have held positions of the highest responsibility for our national defense and nuclear security - including former Republican Administration officials who had negotiated and implemented previous START treaties - were among those who testified and called for the treaty's speedy ratification.
All have been experts, with years - if not decades - of experience in the field of national security and arms control, and all have strongly endorsed ratification of the Treaty.
In addition to its contribution to America's security, one of the most compelling reasons that the full Senate should ratify this treaty, and move quickly to do so, is to regain our insight into Russia's strategic offensive arms. Since START I expired last December, we have had no comprehensive verification regime in place to help us understand Russia's strategic nuclear forces.
We need the transparency to know what Russia is doing to provide confidence and stability, and we need that confidence and stability to contribute to a safer world. We will only regain that transparency by ratifying this treaty, and we are in dangerous territory without it.
Previous arms control treaties have been ratified with overwhelming bipartisan support - START I was passed 93-6 in 1994, and the Moscow Treaty passed 95-0 in 2003. Legislators recognized then that an arms control agreement between Russia and the United States is not just good for the security of our two nations, but can lead the way for the rest of the world to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The ratification of this treaty reconfirms U.S. leadership on nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation.
Over the past several months we have all had ample opportunity to review the documents and reports related to the Treaty. I am sure my colleagues will join me in recognizing the necessity of ratifying New START. Not only will this treaty enhance the national security of the United States, it will serve as a significant step forward in our relationship with Russia, a key partner in the overall US strategy to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide. I am glad to offer my support in the Foreign Relations Committee, and look forward to full Senate ratification as soon as possible.
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