New START Proponents Urge Senate Democratic Leadership to Begin Treaty Debate Immediately

By Daryl G. Kimball

Leaders of key organizations working to sustain momentum for approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty wrote the Senate Democratic leadership earlier this evening demanding that the Senate immediately turn its attention to the treaty.

This call is being backed up by a substantial, nationwide grassroots and Washington-based lobbying effort.

These organizations, which represent millions of Americans, are among the very large, diverse, bipartisan coalition of national security, arms control, religious, scientific, and environmental organizations that support immediate ratification of New START.

Organizations ranging from the Air Force Association to the Arms Control Association, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Assn. of Evangelicals, from retired generals to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, have joined a long list of former Secretaries of State, former Secretaries of Defense, former national security advisers, former presidents, and all major U.S. allies urging approval of the treaty this year.

Newspapers in red, blue, and purple states have editorialized overwhelmingly in favor of prompt Senate ratification of the treaty.

The letter urges Majority Leader Reid, and Sens. Durbin and Schumer, “to take up and approve New START now, if need be by extending the Senate in session beyond December 17.”

“Failure to act on the New START treaty this year would undermine the country’s national security interests, as both our military leadership and numerous former Republican officials have noted.”

The full text of the letter is below.

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December 9, 2010

The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Richard Durbin
The Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Reid, Durbin and Schumer:

Failure to act on the New START treaty this year would undermine the country’s national security interests, as both our military leadership and numerous former Republican officials have noted.

Failure to bring New START to the floor will also squander the significant momentum that has built up in support of the treaty. There is now widespread bipartisan support for New START in the Senate, making it imperative that a floor vote happen before the Senate goes out of session.

Any issue that is left uncompleted during the next month will drag long into 2011; a new Senate takes months to get organized. The new make up of the Senate also promises to complicate ratification, potentially requiring new, more costly negotiations.

If New START is permitted to lag into next year, the U.S. will continue to lack an essential window into the makeup of Russia’s nuclear arsenal that it hasn’t had since START I expired last December. As Gen. Kevin Chilton, the commander of STRATCOM, stated June 16: “If we don’t get the treaty, [the Russians] are not constrained in their development of force structure and…we have no insight into what they’re doing. So it’s the worst of both possible worlds.” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also warned that failure to ratify the treaty now could harm US-Russian relations. Indeed, failure to ratify New START now could undercut US efforts to contain Iran.

The treaty is supported unanimously by the nation’s military and intelligence leadership and most prominent former senior national security officials from Republican as well as Democratic administrations. They support it because it will make the U.S. safer.

We urge you to take up and approve New START now, if need be by extending the Senate in session beyond December 17.

Sincerely,

Frances Beinecke, President,
Natural Resources Defense Council

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director,
Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Shan Cretin, General Secretary,
American Friends Service Committee

Charles D. Ferguson,
President, Federation of American Scientists

Ambassador James Goodby,
Hoover Institution

Susan Gordon, Director,
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr, Chairman,
Bipartisan Security Group

Jonathan Granoff, President,
Global Security Institute

Ambassador Robert Grey,
Former US Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Ken Gude, Director of National Security,
Center for American Progress

Howard W. Hallman, Chair,
Methodists United for Peace with Justice

Katie Heald, Coordinator,
Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World

Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director,
National Security Network

Paul Ingram, Executive Director,
British American Security Information Council

Kevin Kamps, Project Director,
Beyond Nuclear

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director,
Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director,
Arms Control Association

Rachel Kleinfeld, Chief Executive Officer,
Truman National Security Project

Kevin Knobloch, President,
Union of Concerned Scientists

Don Kraus, Chief Executive Officer,
Citizens for Global Solutions

David Krieger, President,
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Ira Lechner, Chairman,
Council for a Livable World

Jan Lodal,
Former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense

Elisabeth MacNamara, President,
League of Women Voters of the U.S.

Kevin Martin, Executive Director,
Peace Action

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel,
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Susan Shaer, Executive Director,
WAND, Women’s Action for New Directions

Karen Showalter, Executive Director,
Americans for Informed Democracy

Joe Volk, Executive Secretary,
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Director, Security and Sustainability,
Global Green USA

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Director,
Two Futures Project

Peter Wilk, Executive Director,
Physicians for Social Responsibility

James E. Winkler, General Secretary,
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society

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