Urge Your Senators to Support the START Treaty and Reduce Nuclear Dangers

We have been encouraging support for the START agreement between the United States and Russia. Here is another take on that topic from our colleagues in the Presbyterian Washington Office

Alert14 History of the START agreement

The original START agreement between the United States and Russia expired on December 5, 2009. The treaty was originally negotiated in the 1980s and early 1990s under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush's presidencies, and it was ratified in the U.S. Senate in 1992. The treaty allowed for inspections and information sharing between the U.S. and Russia for verification purposes. It also allowed for no more than 6,000 deployed nuclear weapons and no more than 1,600 delivery systems for each country. With the expiration of the treaty in December, the verification procedures also expired, making it necessary that the New START treaty be ratified as soon as possible.
Details of the new START follow-on agreement
Like the original START agreement, verification is a crucial element of the New START treaty. Many of the verification methods will be continued from the original treaty. Examples of improved verification methods are information sharing regarding missile tests and on the ground inspections. It does not limit missile defense systems in either country.
The New START treaty sets limits on the number of deployed strategic weapons in each country. Each country is limited to 1,550 deployed strategic weapons, a 30 percent reduction from the "Moscow Treaty" with Russia.
Benefits of the START follow-on agreement

The New START treaty has strong bipartisan support. Various foreign policy experts support the agreement, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former START negotiator Ambassador Linton Brooks.
The treaty enjoys this support because it will make the United States safer, as it prevents nuclear terrorism by preventing nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands. With fewer deployed strategic weapons, there is less chance of nuclear materials being stolen. Also, the New START treaty will help maintain a stable nuclear relationship with Russia. Increased verification procedures and improved data sharing will allow a relationship of trust to exist between the two countries.
What is the status of the treaty now?
Russian President Medvedev and American President Obama signed the New START treaty on April 8, 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. The treaty was submitted to the Senate in early May and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings in May and June. Hopefully it will be reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee before the Senate summer recess begins on August 6.
A total of 67 votes are needed on the Senate floor for ratification of the treaty. Thus, bipartisan support is essential for the treaty to pass. Ratification is possible with your support. Contact your senators to encourage them to support the New START treaty.
Contact your Senators and urge them to give bipartisan support to the new START Treaty. The Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121.
Sample Email
I urge you to do all you can to support ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) reducing U.S. and Russian arsenals.
This essential treaty is sensible and will reduce risks to all of us. Failure to ratify it would be a huge setback for U.S. security and efforts to reduce nuclear dangers.
The New START Treaty provides a renewed and essential foundation of transparency and verification with Russia. With this treaty, we will have better information than ever before about Russia, and we can be assured that Russia is acting in accordance with the treaty.
A vast, bipartisan array of military and foreign policy experts agrees that this treaty will enhance our security.
Can I count on you to support the New START Treaty?
I look forward to receiving your written response describing your position on the crucial New START Treaty.
General Assembly Guidance:

Statement by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev. Gradye Parsons
April 8, 2010
The new nuclear arms reduction treaty signed by the United States and Russia on April 8 in Prague is an event that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long awaited. This initiative resonates with the vision of the prophet Micah who looked toward the day when nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks" (Micah 4:3). Guided by this Biblical vision, General Assemblies of the church and its predecessors have understood that following Jesus and working for God's intended order and life abundant involves seeking international disarmament and arms control measures. The 215th General Assembly (2003) called for the reductions in the world's nuclear arsenal, beginning with cuts by the United States and Russia as a step toward a sustainable and just peace in the world. The new treaty would result in rather modest cuts in the number of the most destructive weapons that the countries deploy. This success also brings an agreement from the countries to be more open about their respective nuclear arsenals. If the United States and Russia, who hold the overwhelming majority of the world's nuclear weapons, enhance their level of nuclear transparency and verification, it opens the possibility that they will be able to bring new leadership and hope to bear on a range of nuclear arms problems. This could also lead to further reduction in their nuclear arsenals. We give thanks for the courage and will to negotiate this treaty and we look forward to its ratification.
We look forward to the meeting at the United Nations next month to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as an opportunity to build on the success of this new START treaty. General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church have called for a nonproliferation treaty since 1967 as a means of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons and a way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. We pray for the success of this meeting.
Each of these represents important steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons- a goal first articulated by the 167th General Assembly (1955) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. In each of its statements, the General Assembly has understood that while eliminating nuclear weapons will not achieve the wholeness, well being, and justice of God's shalom, so doing is a crucial, necessary step toward the day when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Micah 4:3).

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