Jewish groups call for START ratification


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish groups are pressing the U.S. Senate to ratify the new START missile reduction treaty with Russia.

The calls from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Council of World Jewry came after Senate Republicans said in recent weeks that they will use member prerogative to block ratification. Upon further examination, the GOP lawmakers said, the treaty has weak verification measures and unnecessarily reduces the U.S. profile in Europe.

Democrats have accused Republicans of political gamesmanship, seeking to further weaken President Obama after Democrats lost the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections earlier this month.

In a rare move, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week blasted Republicans for stalling, saying the treaty is satisfactory and negotiated in good faith. Mullen is due to meet with his Russian counterparts early next month.

The Anti-Defamation League and the American Council of World Jewry each cited the need to co-opt Russia in isolating Iran as long as it maintains a suspected nuclear weapons program.

"We are deeply concerned that failure to ratify the new START treaty will have national security consequences far beyond the subject of the treaty itself," the ADL said in a Nov. 19 letter sent to all members of the Senate. "The U.S. diplomatic strategy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons requires a U.S.-Russia relationship of trust and cooperation."

The ACWJ in its statement said Russia’s "cooperation is indispensable to assuring global security and American goals, notably in blocking Iran’s dangerous quest for its own nuclear capability."

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