Citing Reagan, Obama pushes Senate to move stalled arms treaty

President Obama cited a Republican hero Saturday as he called on senators to approve a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

In his weekly radio address, the president said having the Senate ratify the START Treaty before the end of this year is crucial to America’s national security. Obama said the agreement follows in the tradition of President Ronald Reagan and his negotiations with the then-Soviet Union over reducing both countries’ stockpiles of nuclear arms.

“To ensure that our national security is protected, the United States has an interest in tracking Russia’s nuclear arsenal through a verification effort that puts U.S. inspectors on the ground. As President Reagan said when he signed a nuclear arms treaty with the Soviet Union in 1987, ‘Trust, but verify,’” Obama said.

The president said in his address that the treaty would help the United States verify the size and scope of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. The agreement would put U.S. inspectors on the ground in Russia and also cut by a third the number of both countries’ deployable nuclear weapons while America will keep “a strong nuclear deterrent,” according to Obama.

Yet the treaty has been stalled over concerns from Republican senators. Several have sought more information on the agreement from the White House while others, like Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), have worried that U.S. nuclear arms are falling into disrepair.

In his address, Obama cited support for the treaty from GOP luminaries, such as former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Jim Baker. He also noted Kyl’s concern and said his administration has committed at least $85 billion over the next 10 years to modernize America’s nuclear arms infrastructure.

The president said both parties should be able to come together and support the arms treaty with Russia. Failing to ratify the agreement would be a “gamble” with U.S. national security, according to Obama.

“The choice is clear: a failure to ratify New START would be a dangerous gamble with America’s national security, setting back our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons, as well as our leadership in the world. That is not what the American people sent us to Washington to do,” Obama said.