President Obama issued a letter to the Senate on Sunday pledging to fully develop a U.S. missile defense system in Europe, as part of a final offensive to relieve concerns about the nuclear arms pact with Russia as it moves toward a final vote.
The letter reiterated administration policy but was an especially extensive and detailed statement on missile defense by the president. Parts of it were read aloud by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) shortly before a vote on an amendment that could have killed the treaty. That amendment was defeated, 59 to 37.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been leaning toward supporting the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), took to the floor to welcome the president’s letter. “A number of people on our side of the aisle have asked for it,” he said.
Missile defense has emerged as the greatest point of contention over the treaty. Although the pact is focused on arms reductions and verification, its preamble briefly mentions an “interrelationship” between nuclear weapons and missile defense.