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Ratification of New START is "an urgent national priority"

President Barack Obama used his weekly address today to call on Congress to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before recessing for the holiday, warning of the consequences of delays in moving forward on “an urgent national priority.”

“Ratifying a treaty like START isn’t about winning a victory for an administration or a political party,” the president said. “It’s about the safety and security of the United States of America.”

That, he said, is why the treaty has had bipartisan support from former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, as well as every living Republican secretary of state, the United States’ NATO allies and the U.S. military leadership.

Obama also noted that Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed the importance of the treaty earlier this week at the White House. “All the Joint Chiefs are very much behind this treaty because of the transparency [and] because of the reality that both the United States and Russia are going to have to recapitalize their nuclear arsenals,” Cartwright said. “To have transparency … to put structure to that activity, we need START, and we need it badly.”

“And that’s why every president since Ronald Reagan has pursued a treaty like START, and every one that has been reviewed by the Senate has passed with strong bipartisan support,” the president said today.

“We have taken the time to get this right,” Obama said, noting that new START has undergone more than seven months of Senate review and 18 congressional hearings.

“It’s time to get this done,” he said.

Delaying action comes at a cost, the president emphasized. “Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites,” he said.

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