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Letter to Senators McConnell and Reid

Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the founder and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, this week led a letter, cosigned by 34 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, calling on the Senate to vote on ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before the close of the 111th Congress.

"New START is a major step forward and will serve as a key bridge toward reaching the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world," said Rep. Markey. "The United States must lead the way in the effort to reduce the global stockpile of nuclear weapons."

"By stopping any debate on START, Senate Republicans have stopped standing up for national security, stopped strengthening the U.S.-Russia partnership to block an Iranian nuclear bomb, and stopped decades of American leadership on nuclear security. It's time for Senate Republicans to stop the obstruction and start the debate to ratify the New START now."

In his letter, Markey pointed out the unanimous support for New START from U.S. military leadership, as well the benefits of ratification, including:

Limitations of deployed warheads and delivery vehicles that will reduce the Russian nuclear threat, and
Establishment of an updated information exchange and enhanced on-site inspections that would provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces that has previously been available.

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Reid:

We are writing to urge the Senate to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before the close of the 111th Congress. The benefits of ratifying New START are clear. It is unanimously supported by our military leadership and backed by five former secretaries of defense, six former secretaries of state, and seven former heads of the military nuclear command.

- The treaty's limits of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles will
reduce the Russian nuclear threat, while allowing us to maintain a robust and modern
nuclear triad.
- The treaty will enable us to "Trust, but verify", as Ronald Reagan said. New START would
establish an updated information exchange system and enhanced on-site inspections that
would provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was
available under the original START accord. Ratification on Few START is the only way to
end the "verification gap" that has emerged since START I expired last year.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated: "Without ratification... we put at risk the coalition that we have built to put pressure on Iran, and the transit route through Russia that we use to equip our troops in Afghanistan. And without ratification, we risk undoing decades of American leadership on nuclear security, and decades of bipartisanship on this issue. Our security and our position in the world are at stake."

Our NATO allies, including those bordering Russia, recently voiced their strong support for swif ratification of New START. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Nov. 19: "A delay in the ratification of the treaty would be damaging to security in Europe."

To ensure that the United States' remaining nuclear weapons and delivery systems are modern, reliable, and effective, the Administration has proposed spending over $180 billion in the next decade. This included $85 billion to upgrade the nation's nuclear weapons complex and extend the lives of existing types of nuclear weapons over the next decade. Another $100 billion will be spent to modernize the strategic missiles and bombers that carry these weapons.

According to our nation's military and intelligence leadership and most prominent former senior national security officials from Republican and Democratic administrations, New START is a no-brainer. They support it because it will make the U.S. safer. We respectfully urge the Senate to schedule time to debate and vote to provide its advice and consent for ratification of New START without delay.

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