Update on progress of New START from Bobbie Paul
Twelve months ago the Georgia WAND community was VERY busy working as part of a national grassroots campaign to secure 67 votes for ratification of the STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in the United States Senate. Thankfully Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson cast a positive vote to support New START as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 16, 2010 (vote was 14-4) and followed it up on the Senate floor on December 22, 2010 with a compelling speech explaining his reasons to support New START. Full ratification was completed with a 71-26 vote. Georgia WAND members played a major role in this effort to convince their Senators that the reduction of nuclear weapons was an issue they cared deeply about. Senator Iskason heard us clearly and responded strongly. To this day Johnny maintains that voting for New START ratification "was the right thing to do."
Georgia WAND is pleased to report the renewal of New START has facilitated positive outcomes, not the least of which is a growing respect between the United States and the Russian Federation as they resume a formal sharing of information on nuclear weapons activities. According to current administration officials, over 1,300 reports have been filed by both the United States and the Russian Federation concerning ANY and ALL activity in regards to nuclear weapons. In addition, the Russians have conducted eight on-site inspections of U.S. nuclear weapons facilities and the United States has conducted nine such sessions in Russia. This sharing of information is what New START promised, was what Johnny Isakson stressed was critically important, and, so far, is what has regularly and easily taken place.
In mid-September fifteen Georgia WAND activists and six Georgia state legislators will go to Washington for the National WAND Conference. While there, they will take to Capitol Hill to meet with their Senators and Representatives who sit on powerful energy and water committees, appropriations committees, and, perhaps, the Super Committee of 12.
As a part of our PEACE in ACTION work, the Georgia WAND team will continue to advocate for an end to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a world free of nuclear weapons. Georgia WAND will also begin a two-track approach of calling for the defunding of unnecessary weapons systems and begin early discussions with our Senators about the eventual ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that the United States signed 15 years ago on September 24, 1996 but has not yet ratified with the necessary two-thirds vote of the United States Senate.
We hope to have a full Report Back from the Hill with interested members and friends on the week of September 25.