Lugar’s final word on New START

Lugar’s final word on New START

The Cable has obtained the final version of Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-IN) resolution to ratify the New START nuclear reductions treaty with Russia.

This latest draft is the version that will likely reach the Senate floor, after facing some amendments from other Senate Foreign Relations Committee members. That floor debate is not expected until after the November elections.

The document, which will be voted on Thursday morning by the committee, represents the culmination of over a week of negotiations between Senate Foreign Relations committee staff, various GOP Senate offices, and the Obama administration. As we reported earlier today, several GOP committee members have pledged to sign on to the Lugar resolution, as opposed to a previous version circulated by committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA).

The latest Lugar version has only minor modifications from a version he circulated last Friday also published on The Cable. In an exclusive interview with The Cable Tuesday, Lugar said he was confident his resolution would be approved by the committee and that he had commitments from numerous GOP senators. He added that the Obama administration was on board as well.

“The administration has been very enthusiastic about our efforts,” Lugar said, adding that he spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the negotiations.

His resolution addresses several, but not all, of the concerns various Republican senate offices had about the START treaty. Regarding one main concern, the modernization of the nuclear complex, Lugar’s staff added language that seeks to assure senators that there will be some mechanism if the administration’s 10-year modernization plan doesn’t go as scheduled.

“Essentially it says there would be consideration of withdrawal [from the treaty] if our modernization effort is not effective,” Lugar said.

Administration officials who spoke with reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon said they supported the committee’s process but needed a resolution that doesn’t change the treaty so much that the Russians might object.

“It’s very important that we have a clean resolution so we have no ramifications for how the Russians manage their own ratification process,” said Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher.

Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller said the administration was sensitive to the fact that the Senate might not be able to ratify the treaty immediately.

“We understand that the Senate has to act according to its own timeline,” he said.