New Start

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The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is gathering more support in Congress, thanks to its recent endorsement by Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. This leaves the bill 6 votes short of ratification. Eight other Republicans have also suggested that they might vote for the treaty.

The New START is a successor to the 1991 treaty negotiated between Reagan and the USSR. New START intends to reduce Russian and American stockpiles of nuclear weapons to about 30% of their current numbers.

Republican opposition to the treaty primarily revolves around missile defense and nuclear modernization. However, proponents of the treaty argue that New START is crucial to improving US-Russian relations. They argue that New START replaces trust with on the ground verification thanks to its inspection provisions that would allow American scientists to inspect Russian facilities and ensure that the reductions are actually occurring.

The treaty is also key to fulfilling obligations to the international community. It is difficult for the US to argue internationally that countries like Iran or North Korea must eliminate their nuclear weapons, while the United States and Russia continue to develop nuclear arsenals capable of destroying the world several times.