The Cable

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Over breakfast, Clinton and Tauscher brief on START

In another sign of the State Department’s dedication to getting the new START treaty ratified this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted top senators and staff for breakfast Tuesday morning in her private Foggy Bottom digs. Up on the 8th floor over a menu of fruit, yogurt, and scrambled eggs, Clinton and Under Secretary ...

In another sign of the State Department's dedication to getting the new START treaty ratified this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted top senators and staff for breakfast Tuesday morning in her private Foggy Bottom digs.

In another sign of the State Department’s dedication to getting the new START treaty ratified this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted top senators and staff for breakfast Tuesday morning in her private Foggy Bottom digs.

Up on the 8th floor over a menu of fruit, yogurt, and scrambled eggs, Clinton and Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher spoke and answered questions for 90 minutes about the new pact with Russia. Chief negotiator Rose Gottemoeller, State’s congressional affairs chief Richard Verma, the Pentagon’s James N.  Miller, and the National Security Council’s Gary Samore were also there. The congressional side included about a dozen Senate Foreign Relations Committee members and their aides.

The message was: "This treaty is good for national security," our inside sources reported, adding that Clinton wasn’t supposed to stay the whole time but extended her appearance because she wanted to make sure she addressed all the questions posed thoroughly.

Some senators who were there include committee heads John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, as well as Europe subcommittee chair Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Ben Cardin, D-MD, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY.

"It was a good meeting. We got good answers," Lugar told The Cable. Lugar supports ratification, but some other Republicans, notably Jon Kyl, R-AZ, are still keeping their powder dry.

Kerry told The Cable the breakfast meeting was "a good discussion about the substance of the treaty and how we will proceed."

The SFRC is setting up hearings now, with the chairs of the Strategic Posture Commission, former Defense Secretaries James Schlesinger and William Perry, up first on Thursday. A hearing with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will follow that.

Our Senate sources say Thursday’s hearing will be the chance for several GOP senators to air their objections to the treaty’s language on missile defense. The treaty prevents the U.S. from mounting missile-defense interceptors on ICBMs or SLBMs, but the administration is arguing that doesn’t "constrain" missile defense because it wasn’t planning on doing that anyway.

The Senate GOP caucus held its own meeting on START last week, and we’re hearing some GOP senators aren’t buying that argument.

As for when the treaty might come up for a vote, Kerry wasn’t committing to anything specific, but said he wanted to get it done "as soon as is practical."

"We’re not going to have any specific [deadline] date out there, but we’re going to move very, very rapidly to put all the hearings together and to put together the draft resolution and begin to move on it," he said.

Gottemoeller gave a hint during a speech Monday at a conference held by the Arms Control Association, saying that State would give Congress all the remaining documents: annexes, protocols, etc. "within the coming weeks."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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