May 26, 2014
Lawmakers are sounding the alarm over Russia’s arms control commitments and introducing measures to ensure the White House keeps a close watch on Moscow.
A provision in the Senate’s $514 billion fiscal 2015 defense policy bill would require the White House to more quickly notify lawmakers of violations by parties to existing arms control agreements, in particular an existing nuclear deal with Russia, the New START treaty.
“We want to be more comfortable that we’re being notified, and we’ve drafted language to achieve that goal,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), told reporters Thursday, announcing the new language.
International experts say the Senate measure is targeted at Russia, with lawmakers skeptical Moscow will honor its arms control promises amid the crisis in Ukraine.
The Senate measure could also be a “pre-emptive effort” to head off further GOP efforts to dismantle the administration’s nuclear disarmament work, said Kingston Reif, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
The new provision comes amid lingering discontent among Republicans over the New START nuclear arms agreement.
Republicans have opposed the treaty since it was signed in 2010 by Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and have repeatedly attempted to disrupt its implementation through legislative means, including stalling its ratification.