What: All Issues : War & Peace : Nuclear Weapons : On an amendment that would have required the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on an agreement to limit the possession of tactical nuclear weapons. (“Tactical weapons” are short-range nuclear weapons designed to be used on the battlefield.) This amendment was offered to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. The amendment would have had the effect of killing the treaty for the foreseeable future;any tampering with the treaty’s language would have torpedoed the agreement entirely. (2010 senate Roll Call 287)
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On an amendment that would have required the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on an agreement to limit the possession of tactical nuclear weapons. (“Tactical weapons” are short-range nuclear weapons designed to be used on the battlefield.) This amendment was offered to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. The amendment would have had the effect of killing the treaty for the foreseeable future;any tampering with the treaty’s language would have torpedoed the agreement entirely.
senate Roll Call 287     Dec 20, 2010
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on an amendment by Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) that would have required the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on an agreement to limit the possession of tactical nuclear weapons. (“Tactical weapons” are short-range nuclear weapons designed to be used on the battlefield. Tactical weapons are different from strategic nuclear weapons, which can be launched across an ocean.) This amendment was offered to a treaty (known as the “New START” treaty) which was strongly supported by the Obama administration, and limited the number of warheads the U.S. and Russia could maintain in their nuclear arsenals to 1,550. Under LeMieux’s amendment, negotiations between the two countries would have been required to begin within one year of the treaty’s ratification. This amendment would have had the effect of killing the treaty for the foreseeable future;any tampering with the treaty’s language would have torpedoed the agreement entirely.

LeMieux urged support for his amendment: “My amendment says that within a year of the ratification of this treaty, the Russians and the United States must sit down and negotiate a tactical nuclear weapon agreement. It doesn't require that it be resolved within a year. It requires that it be started. That seems to me--I am a little biased, but that seems to me eminently reasonable.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) argued that making changes to the New START treaty would only cause the Russian government to abandon negotiations over tactical weapons: “I completely agree with the intention of the senator [LeMieux]. I think all of us agree we have to negotiate a tactical nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Unfortunately, this [amendment]…will actually prevent us from getting to the place where we negotiate that because the first thing we have to do to get the Russians to the table is pass the START treaty. If we pass the New START treaty, we can engage in these discussions. If we don't pass it, they [the Russians] have no confidence [in the U.S.]….We have to get them to enter into those negotiations. The way to do that is to preserve the integrity of the START treaty and then get to those agreements.”

The Senate rejected this amendment by a vote of 35-62. Voting “yea” were 35 Republicans. All 56 Democrats present and 6 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have required the United States and Russia to begin negotiations within one year of the New Start treaty’s implementation on an agreement to limit the possession of tactical nuclear weapons.

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