Official: 'No desire to rush to the Hill' for vote on nuclear pact

President Obama's top arms control official on Friday tamped down any expectation that the administration would be bringing up a long-stalled nuclear treaty up for a vote anytime soon.

Rose Gottemoeller, the acting under secretary of State for arms control and international security, told a nuclear deterrence summit in Virginia that the administration is not in a “rush” to ask for a Senate vote on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The comments contrast with her affirmation last March that getting the treaty ratified was a “top priority” for Obama's second term.

“I want to be clear: We have no desire to rush up to the Hill for a vote,” Gottemoeller said. “It's been 15 years since the CTBT was on the front pages on newspapers.”

“Once we've brought the Treaty back to people's attention, we can move on to discussion and debate — just like we did with the New START Treaty.”

Then-President Clinton signed the treaty in 1996, but it has lingered in the Senate since then.

Gottemoeller's comments are the latest sign the administration's nuclear agenda is floundering in the sharply divided Senate. Republican anger over last year's vote to strip them of their ability to filibuster nominees has mixed with deep distrust over Obama's nuclear diplomacy with Iran and Russia to stall any meaningful progress on the issue.

Obama made ratification one of his four denuclearization priorities in his 2009 Prague speech, whose fifth anniversary is coming up in April. He has yet to formally ask for Congress to act, however.

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