Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) today released a schedule for the second round of hearings on the New START Treaty. The Committee has held five hearings thus far with current and former administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Henry Kissinger, and former Secretaries of Defense James Schlesinger and William Perry.
Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Lugar are pursuing an aggressive schedule of hearings and are planning a full Committee vote on the treaty before the August congressional recess.
"President Obama has made nuclear arms control and nonproliferation the cornerstone of his new National Security Strategy, which states: "The American people face no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon'. Ratifying the New START Treaty is essential to addressing this threat, making America safer, and bolstering the global coalition against nuclear proliferation," said Kerry. "With every passing day we lose crucial visibility into Russia's nuclear arsenal and credibility as a world leader on this vital issue. It is imperative that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee act expeditiously to move the New START Treaty to the Senate floor. Over the next two months, Senator Lugar and I will conduct a second series of hearings that will give this treaty the thorough vetting it deserves. We plan to hold a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the New START Treaty prior to the August recess and are confident that our colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join us in supporting the treaty to strengthen our national security".
Lugar stated, "This timeline for Committee consideration is imperative so that we can restart inspections, invigorate our relationship with Russia and continue our leadership in global nonproliferation. The Committee must work swiftly to deal with legitimate and important concerns expressed by Senators. To this end, I have submitted more than 100 questions for the record to the Administration on the treaty and its national security implications, and called for a full range of views to be considered in our hearings".
During the first series of hearings, Clinton, Gates, and Mullen testified about the urgent need to ratify the New START Treaty. Baker, Kissinger, Schlesinger, and Perry reaffirmed the importance of ratifying this treaty.
On Tuesday, the Committee held a closed hearing with Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance; and Ted Warner, the Secretary of Defense's Representative to Post-START Negotiations, in order to allow members to discuss classified content pertaining to New START.
Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Lugar plan to conduct at least eight more hearings featuring witnesses who were integral to negotiating the treaty as well as officials who will address specific concerns such as missile defense, modernization, and verification.