Nuclear disarmament deal with Russia faces obstacle in U.S. Senate (2)

10:09, April 01, 2010      

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But a two-thirds majority is required in the Senate for the ratification of the treaty, and Democrats lack that kind of voting power.

And while no consensus has emerged in the Republican Party, some Republicans said they would not vote in favor of the new treaty until the Obama administration comes forward with a plan to update the United States' nuclear weapons cache.

Darrell West, an expert on U.S. politics at the Brookings Institution think tank, said that if Republicans insist on modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, it could become an obstacle to ratification.

With the U.S. national deficit running at more than 1 trillion dollars, there is no money for any serious changes in the United States' nuclear stockpile, he said.

And aside from those demanding upgrades for the U.S. arsenal, certain elements within the Republican Party will be especially difficult to win over.

"Military hawks will be the toughest obstacle in the Senate because they are very suspicious of anything involving Russia," West said. "They will be reluctant to support any kind of treaty."

But in spite of those hurdles, the treaty could still be ratified this year, as some Republicans have spoken of it favorably, such as Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, West noted.

"What he says will carry a lot of weight with his colleagues," West said.

In a statement released on Friday, Lugar urged the Senate to ratify the treaty.

"I look forward to the president's submission of the new treaty, its protocols, annexes and all associated documents to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification," he said.

"I also look forward to working with Chairman Kerry to begin scheduling hearings and briefings for the Foreign Relations Committee so that we can work quickly to achieve ratification of the new treaty," he added.

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