Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has delayed a committee vote on the New START nuclear reductions agreement with Russia, which was supposed to take place today. Although the votes were there to get the treaty out of committee, Kerry has said he wants to give his Republican colleagues more time to go over the agreement. This may help in winning skeptical Republicans over to the pro-ratification side of the table, but, it also moves the time table for the floor vote on the treaty dangerously close to the mid-terms elections, when senators are likely to be reluctant to stick their necks out.
The New START agreement is critically important. It will reduce the number of deployed American and Russian nuclear warheads by about 30% and institute a rigorous inspection and verification system. Because the last nuclear arms control treaty expired at the end of last year, there is currently no agreement legally in place between the United States and Russia governing nuclear weapons, and there won't be until this treaty is ratified.
The New START agreement is something that everyone needs to keep their eyes on for the next few months. It's a vital step in nuclear weapons reduction, and should be warmly supported by everyone.