U.S.-Russia nuke treaty stirs heated debate

15:12, July 24, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and his visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attend a joint press conference after their meeting at the East Room of the White House in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, June 24, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

A debate is heating up in the run up of a senate vote on the passage of new START, a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty that many experts bill as a major foreign policy accomplishment for U.S. President Barack Obama.

Celebrities of the foreign policy world, such as former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, support the treaty, while conservative analysts and lobbying groups oppose it. Prominent GOP senators such as Jon Kyl, A.Z., are casting a scrutinizing eye on the agreement.

"It needs to be passed," said Scowcroft of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which provides a framework for U.S.-Russia discussions of nuclear weapons.

The treaty, the latest in a long line of nuclear weapons agreements between Moscow and Washington that dates back to the early 60s, seeks to pick up where the last one left off when it expired in December.

Scowcroft, who served as National Defense Secretary under the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush Sr., said much of the debate revolves around issues that are only "dimly related" to the treaty.

A battle between lobbyists has also emerged during this week's Congressional recess, reported The Hill newspaper.

Heritage Action, nonprofit group affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, is asking senators not to ratify new START and gathered the signatures of more than 11,000 opponents in the first 24 hours of an online petition. At the same time, peace activists are pushing for ratification, the Hill newspaper reported.

But new START's ratification is facing hurdles in the Senate - so far only one GOP senator is on board - although the White House and many experts are confident it will pass.


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