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PNND Action Alert: Call for parliamentary letters
March 2010

START agreed: Support needed for ratification and next steps

The United States and Russia have completed the year-long negotiations that will reduce their nuclear stockpiles by about 30%. The new treaty, to replace the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty which expired last December, includes extensive verification mechanisms to ensure that each side will deploy no more than 1,550 warheads, and also cuts the number of delivery systems in half.

The negotiations were difficult. Support from parliamentarians, governments and civil society helped both leaders to overcome resistance from pro-nuclear forces within their countries.

PNND thanks those parliamentarians who were active in this process, especially those in France, Italy, Norway, Japan, New Zealand and Germany who sent joint letters to President Obama and President Medvedev supporting the START negotiations.

As tough as the negotiations have been, the most difficult part still lies ahead: treaty ratification.

PNND members, especially in countries with close relationships to the USA and/or Russia, can help this important effort by sending letters in support of the new treaty to the legislatures of the two countries.

PNND's sister program in Washington, the Bipartisan Security Group, can ensure that your letters get to the key officials and congressional committees in the United States.

Already in the US, the entire Republican caucus in the Senate has announced that they will not ratify any stockpile reduction treaty unless the President commits to modernizing the nuclear arsenal. (See Nuke modernization, Washington Times, December 17). Ratification of treaties requires 2/3 vote in the Senate. The 40 Republican Senators could thus block ratification of the forthcoming agreement, a move that would limit the ability of President Obama to conduct further disarmament negotiations. A key argument being used by Republican Senators for maintenance of a robust nuclear arsenal is that the US requires such forces in order to ‘protect’ its allies.

In Russia, pro-nuclear forces in the military argue that Russia needs to rely more, not less, on nuclear weapons in order to offset the US and Western Europe superiority in conventional weapons and as a response to Ballistic Missile Defences which Russia believes undermines its nuclear deterrence capacity.

PNND can help ensure that your letters get to the key leaders in the US and Russia. In Russia, PNND Co-President Sergei Kolesnikov, a key member of the Duma, will assist, and we can arrange translation into Russian as well. In Washington, contact Mr. Kevin Davis of the Bipartisan Security Group: +1 (202) 543-9017 +1 (202) 543-9017, kdavis@gsinstitute.org.