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Senate approval of arms pact with Russia now jeopardized

Senate approval of arms pact with Russia now jeopardized
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 4:12am

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate approval of President Barack Obama's nuclear arms treaty with Russia, which once looked close to a sure thing, is now in jeopardy.

The administration is scrambling to get enough Republican support in the Senate to ratify the New START treaty before the Democrats' majority shrinks by six in January.  But Republicans have little incentive to give Obama a big political boost after leaving him reeling from their strong gains in last week's congressional elections.

A failure to win passage could trip up one of the administration's top foreign policy goals:  improving relations with Russia.  The treaty, signed in April by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, has been the most tangible sign of success, and failure to get it ratified could be viewed as a rebuke in Moscow.  It also would leave Obama's push for even greater restrictions on the world's nuclear arsenal in doubt.

Some Republicans have argued that the treaty would limit U.S. missile defense options and does not provide adequate procedures to verify that Russia is living up to its terms.  Advocates dispute both charges.

The Obama administration is worried that ratification could slip out of reach if a vote were to be delayed. 

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