The Obama Administration’s hope of securing the ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia could be hitting the rocks after the US midterm elections have weakened his party’s hold on the Senate.
Some officials are hoping that the lame-duck Congress will hurry up and pass the START before the new Congress seats, but this could force a hasty debate and seems to be opposed by even some proponents of the treaty.
Some Republican Senators are opposing the treaty on the grounds that it would “weaken” the US nuclear arsenal and that it does not give the US oversight over the Russian arsenal to ensure that they are fulfilling their side of the deal.
The reality, of course, is that the previous START treaty’s limitations were never fully met by either side, and the new treaty, which only pledges modest cuts, is probably more lip-service to the idea of arms reduction than any actual guarantee to that end. Russia remains irked about the US missile defense system growing along their borders, and the only way the deal was even made was to avoid mentioning it entirely. Failing to get the deal ratified will be a big political defeat for the president, but may also send the signal that even modest cuts in the enormous and expensive US nuclear weapons arsenal are being resisted by those in power.