The new focus is on whether the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty contains robust enough verification measures to catch potential Russian cheating and whether the remaining nuclear arsenal can be modernized and maintained.

White-House-2White House officials and Senate Republicans are shifting their arms-control arguments from politics to more substantive disagreements over treaty verification and nuclear weapons modernization ahead of what both sides say is a critical week for President Barack Obama’s nuclear-arms treaty with Russia.

The new focus is on whether the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty contains robust enough verification measures to catch potential Russian cheating and whether the remaining nuclear arsenal can be modernized and maintained. Two key Republicans, Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, circulated a seven-page memo to senators last week questioning the White House’s commitment to modernizing the arsenal and the nuclear-weapons plants and laboratories needed to maintain them.

White House officials had committed $80 billion over a decade to modernize the remaining arsenal and nuclear weapons complex, then added a further $4 billion to address Mr. Kyl’s concerns.

This week, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden plan a robust, public push for a vote on the treaty before the end of the year. The vice president spoke last Monday with Mr. Kyl, who is leading efforts to delay treaty consideration, and spoke on Nov. 19 with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a potential ally.

Russian officials support the treaty and have said they would abide by it.

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Source: Jonathan Weisman | The Wall Street Journal