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The High Price for Ratification of New START

Proposed new US CMRR facilityIs President Obama losing the plot? One of his few tangible achievements of the past 2 years has been the new START treaty on strategic weapons reductions negotiated with Russia. Yet he faces an uphill struggle to get the treaty ratified in the US senate, especially since the November midterm elections. Already he has announced an $80bn ‘sweetener’ - a 10 year programme to modernise the US nuclear weapons infrastructure - and has had to make assurances that the treaty will not restrict the development of missile defence.


More recently he announced a further $4.1bn in spending on nuclear weapons maintenance, research and support. As Robert Haddick comments in an article in Foreign Policy (Nov 29, 2010) ‘the Republicans will pocket that support, and increase their demands.’ In particular, they are likely to demand specific commitments to a new nuclear capable long range bomber, and specific funding for the next generation of ballistic missile submarines. Instead of being a step towards a nuclear free world, ratification of the new START treaty could have a very high price - a new nuclear arms race.


Alan Mackinnon