On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-4 in support of a new START treaty with Russia. The new strategic nuclear arms control agreement has been at the top of Obama's foreign policy agenda.
The treaty must now be approved by a two-thirds majority in the full Senate, however it is unclear when the item may reach the Senate floor.
If approved, the treaty would reduce the number of nuclear warheads deployed by the U.S. and Russia to no more than 1,550 within seven years, and it would establish procedures to ensure compliance.
In a joint statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that the proposed treaty "will provide stability and predictability between the world's two leading nuclear powers, reducing the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia to a level not seen since the 1950s."
Among the key provisions is an agreement between the two nations to share information regarding the location of strategic weapons, including when and how they can be inspected. The joint statement by Clinton and gates also stated that the treaty "will help keep nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes."
President Obama commended the bipartisan support for the treaty within the Senate committee and stressed that "ratification of this treaty will reinforce our cooperation with Russia on a range of issues."
In his statement, the U.S. president urged the Senate to move forward quickly with ratification. He added that the agreement would "advance American leadership in the world, while strengthening our national security in the 21st century."
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