President Barack Obama sent a landmark arms-reduction treaty with Russia to the Senate for ratification and called for $80 billion in nuclear funding, which could help win opposition support.

President Barack Obama sent a landmark arms-reduction treaty with Russia to the Senate for ratification and called for $80 billion in nuclear funding, which could help win opposition support.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the funds, which would be spent over a decade, were needed to “rebuild and sustain America’s aging nuclear stockpile.”

The treaty, which must be ratified by the Senate and Russia’s parliament before it goes into force, would reduce the strategic nuclear arsenals deployed by the former Cold War foes by 30 percent within seven years.

SART-DelegationKnown as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, it is also seen as a major step toward “resetting” U.S.-Russia relations, which were prickly under the Bush administration.

“The U.S. is far better off with this treaty than without it,” Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. “It strengthens the security of the U.S. and our allies and promotes strategic stability between the world’s two major nuclear powers.”

Gates said the treaty had the unanimous support of America’s military leadership.

Obama, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in part for his vision of a nuclear-free world, must get some Republican backing to win the 67 votes needed for Senate approval. Obama’s Democrats and their allies have 59 seats in the Senate.

Some Senate Republicans previously argued that Obama needed to commit more resources to modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons complex to convince them the treaty was viable.

“This might be what’s necessary to buy the votes for ratification,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

The White House noted the $80 billion in funding for the nuclear stockpile came on top of more than $100 billion in additional investments in nuclear delivery systems, like nuclear submarines.

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Source: Reuters
Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza