Obama hails passage of START treaty

Commending the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that passed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) Treaty by 14-4 votes, Obama said leaders from across the political spectrum, including those from Republican and Democratic administrations have endorsed this Treaty. "They recognise that it is in our national security interest. It reduces the deployed nuclear forces of both the US and Russia, provides strong verification measures, and continues to improve relations between our two nations – the world's two largest nuclear weapon powers, and key partners in global security," Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, too welcomed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's approval to the START treaty. "We applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's strong bipartisan vote today to approve the New START Treaty. If ratified, this agreement will advance some of our most critical national security objectives," Clinton and Gates said in a joint statement.

"It will provide stability and predictability between the world’s two leading nuclear powers, reducing the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia to a level not seen since the 1950's while retaining a safe and effective deterrent," they said. "It will restore crucial inspection and verification mechanisms that ceased when the original START agreement expired last year, allowing US inspectors back inside Russian nuclear weapons silos. And it will help keep nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes," the statement said.

Terming it as a historic vote that renews the bipartisan tradition that's vital in tackling the grave threat posed by nuclear weapons, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry said this bipartisan vote sends an important signal that even in the most partisan, polarised season, ratifying this treaty is not a matter of politics, it is a national security imperative.

"The full Senate must quickly pass the resolution because the stakes are enormous. When we ratify this treaty, we limit Russia's nuclear arsenal, regain the ability to inspect their nuclear forces, and redouble international support for our nonproliferation efforts to counter the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue nations like Iran and North Korea," he said.

The new START Treaty that the President signed with Russia in April reestablishes the US leadership on global non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, reduces Russia's nuclear arsenal and takes concrete steps to secure a nuclear-free world without sacrificing America's security, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said while welcoming the treaty's approval by the Senate Committee.

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