Obama, speaking to reporters on Sunday after a meeting with Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, on the sidelines of the Asian economic summit in the South Korean capital, Seoul, said he has notified Congress that it is a top priority. But it is likely to be a cliffhanger and hard work, with the fate of the treaty dependent on only a handful of senators and with less than four weeks of the congressional session left. The Democrats have 59 votes in the 100-member Senate but need eight Republicans to secure the necessary two-thirds majority to ratify the treaty. The New START treaty, signed by Obama and Medvedev in April, is being bragged about by the Obama administration as one of its most important foreign policy achievements, although observers point out that it is nothing but propaganda and deception. It is far from the principal, practical step towards "a world without nuclear weapons". Once ratified, the treaty claims it would reduce the number of long-range nuclear warheads each side has to 1,550; roughly one-third down from current levels.
The previous START treaty expired last December. However, the Republicans' public position is that they are prepared to back the treaty so long as the remainder of the doomsday US nuclear arsenal is modernized and more lethal. Meantime, the White House said the issue is a test of whether the Republicans are serious about a deal or whether their overriding priority is ensuring Obama is not re-elected in 2012. If the treaty is not ratified in the remainder of this session of the Congress, the White House sees it becoming even harder in the new Congress – scheduled to start in January, when the Republicans will have more senators, elected earlier this month. US neo-conservatives are concerned that materialization of a new START will block the highly provocative missile shield in Eastern Europe. Elsewhere, some have said that Moscow has announced positive stand toward a new arms reduction treaty provided that Washington shelved its missile shield.