Where’s the money?

A key senator says the Obama administration needs to commit to more funding for modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons complex if it is to convince him that the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia is a good idea. USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

Republican Senator Jon Kyl said that in any case it’s debatable whether the new START treaty signed recently by President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev “is in the best interests of the United States.”

The new START treaty, which cuts the arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads in both countries by about 30 percent, must be approved by the Senate as well as the Russian parliament before it can go into force.

Obama will need some Republican support if he is to win the 67 votes needed for Senate consent. Kyl’s opinion matters because he is the Senate’s number two Republican, and he is considered something of an expert on nuclear weapons.

Administration officials already have proposed over $600 million in additional funding for maintaining the U.S. nuclear complex next year, as well as boosting funding for the complex by some $5 billion dollars over the next five years.
But in a speech to the National Defense University Foundation Tuesday, Kyl indicated he wants to see a modernization commitment lasting twice that long and involving a lot more money.