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Ensign speaks out against Russian arms treaty

Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who voted Wednesday against holding a Senate debate on the new START Treaty, spoke on the floor today against ratifying it.

Ensign said he believes the arms limitation pact with Russia is seriously flawed.

“The United States is making major concessions while our Russian counterparts give up virtually nothing,” he said.

Ensign plans to offer several amendments to the treaty but would prefer that the debate be postponed until next year when the Senate can deliberate longer on such an important issue.

“Leadership in this arena will be measured by how well we protect our ability to defend ourselves and our friends not by how quickly we agree to an imperfect treaty,” he said.

The Senate voted, 66-32, Wednesday to proceed with a debate on the new START Treaty. At least 67 votes are needed to ratify a treaty.

Ensign offered several specifics concerns:

• The verification regime appears lacking.

• Tactical nuclear weapons are omitted; meanwhile Russia holds a 10-1 advantage on these.

• Missile defense should not be included in the treaty, never mind the preamble where it clearly recognizes an interrelationship between offensive nuclear weapons and missile defense.

• Article 5, paragraph 3, plainly prohibits converting ICBMs or Sea-based launchers to missile defense.

• And, the purview of a bilateral consultation commission established by the treaty is broad and vague.

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