Washington: President Barack Obama on Saturday asked the US Congress to come together to ratify the new arms control START agreement with Russia, warning that failure to approve it would result in serious consequences for the country`s security.
"Ratifying a treaty like START is not about winning a victory for an administration or a political party, it is about the safety and security of the country," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
This is why it has been endorsed by both Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, every living Republican Secretary of State, NATO allies, and the leadership of the military, he argued.
"Before going away for the holiday break, I`m hopeful we can also come together on another urgent national priority and that is, the new START treaty that will reduce the world`s nuclear arsenals and make America more secure," Obama said in his weekly address.
Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union and United States each had about 25,000 nuclear weapons. In the decades since, that number has been reduced by over 70 per cent, and the US have had on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities.
That progress would not have been possible without strategic arms control treaties, he noted.
He said, without a new one the US won`t be able to verify Russia`s nuclear arsenal.
"Without a new treaty, we`ll risk turning back the progress we`ve made in our relationship with Russia, which is essential to enforce strong sanctions against Iran, secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists, and resupply our troops in Afghanistan.
"And we`ll risk undermining American leadership not only on nuclear proliferation, but a host of other challenges around the world," Obama said.
The treaty -- signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Obama at an elaborate ceremony in Prague in April -- restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 per cent from a limit set in 2002.
The agreement replaces a previous accord that lapsed in December 2009 and also requires ratification by Russia`s lower house, the Duma.
"It`s time to get this done. It`s time to show the same spirit of common purpose on our security that we showed this week on our economy," Obama said.