US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama is celebrating today after the Senate voted in his nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. Under the treaty, both countries vow to reduce their nuclear arms stocks.
Seventy-one US senators voted for the treaty with only 26 voting against. Thirteen Republicans went against their own leadership and voted for the accord. Republicans had criticised the treaty’s language on missile defence, verification and other issues, according to the Washington Post. After the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed, Obama called it “a season of progress”. The Post also reports that the overwhelming support in the Senate for the treaty was the result of months of behind-the-scenes efforts by Democrats. They said:
For months, Clinton and Biden had been calling lawmakers from airplanes, their offices and homes, and sending teams to brief them on the treaty’s contents. “It was real shoe-leather vote-by-vote work,” said a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The START proposals were debated for eight days in the Senate, and they now limit Russia and the US stock of warheads to 1,550. Previously the two sides were allowed 2,220 each.
However, Business Week notes that the treaty must now be approved by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma. That vote should take place tomorrow.
It was a good day all round for Obama as he prepared to sign off and head to Hawaii for his Christmas break. He also signed in the Repeal Act yesterday. The Act allows gay people to openly serve in the military. He secured the Senate’s support on Monday for the abolishment of the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly, known as teh ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.