Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss critical national security issues facing the United States, including the New START Treaty, at the U.S. Capitol on November 17, 2010. After the meeting, Secretary Clinton, Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry, and ranking member Senator Richard Lugar held a press conference to discuss their talks.
Secretary Clinton said, "...We've had very encouraging discussions over the past months with a number of senators, in particular with a number of Republican senators who share our commitment to ensuring a robust nuclear modernization program. We will continue and intensify those discussions in the coming days, and we are heartened that there well may be a bipartisan consensus emerging on the need for such funding.
"Now recently some have suggested we should hit the pause button; that it is too difficult to do this treaty in a lame duck session. I strongly disagree. This is exactly what the American people expect us to do, to come together and do what is necessary to protect our country. We can and we must go forward now on the New START Treaty during the lame duck session. We have an opportunity to ratify this treaty and to lock in consensus on modernization funding.
"And perhaps most importantly, and I want to stress this because I'm not sure that everybody really understands that when the prior treaty expired we lost the ability to have inspectors on the ground. We need to get our inspectors back into Russia after a gap of nearly a year. As our intelligence and defense colleagues have repeatedly noted, we are much better off with New START than without it. Jim Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, said yesterday, the earlier, the sooner, the better. We need the stability, transparency, and predictability that New START will provide by giving us insight into Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal. That is a rationale that previous presidents and congresses of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties have repeatedly and overwhelmingly supported.
"This is also a treaty that is critical to our bilateral relationship with Russia. We have enhanced our cooperation to the benefit of our country on Iran, on Afghanistan, on nuclear nonproliferation, on counterterrorism, and on counternarcotics. That's why our entire military leadership, as well as six former secretaries of state, five former secretaries of defense, three former national security advisors, and seven former commanders of U.S. Strategic Command support this treaty and support it now. Now, we look forward to the Senate quickly completing its advice and consent process.
"And I want to stress how the American people want to see Republicans and Democrats working together on behalf of national security. That's why in 1991, under a Republican president, the Senate approved the START Treaty by a vote of 93 to 6. That's why in 2002, under a Republican president, the Senate approved the Moscow Treaty, which included no verification measures by 95 to nothing. I had the privilege of voting for that treaty. This treaty deserves the same overwhelming bipartisan support."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.