Obama foe raises possible March START vote

3rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

President Barack Obama's Republican foes in the US Senate might block a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia until next March, their point-man on the agreement has warned in an interview.

Number-two Senate Republican Jon Kyl also told the Hugh Hewitt radio program late Thursday that there may be enough support from his party to ratify the treaty in 2010, but only if there were "plenty of time" to debate it.

But "if they (Democrats) try to bring it up with only three or four days of debate, then I think Republicans, even those who are predisposed to support the treaty, would vote against it," on principle, he said.

Republicans would "then agree to have it considered, say, next March or so," said Kyl, who has already warned there is not enough time in the waning year-end session to approve the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The treaty must come up next week "no later than the middle of the week, if there is to be time to consider it, to debate it," he warned. "And even then, I think it's probably too short."

The White House has worked for months to ease what Republicans say are their concerns: That the treaty may handcuff US missile defense plans, and that more money is needed to ensure that the US nuclear arsenal stays up to date.

Kyl pledged to make his position on the treaty "crystal clear next week," after making it clear to the White House that the "resolution of ratification" -- not the treaty itself -- would need to be amended to reflect his worries.

But while Kyl has declined to say explicitly whether he favors the treaty, his office has repeatedly sent reporters arguments for killing the pact.

© 2010 AFP

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