Gottemoeller ready for ‘next great adventure’: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Rose E. Gottemoeller (CNS photo/Department of State)

With the New START agreement with Russia in place, the State Department’s Rose Gottemoeller is preparing for her “next great adventure” on the road to nuclear disarmament.

Gottemoeller, assistant secretary in the Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, was the chief U.S. negotiator of the treaty that defines the next stage of strategic nuclear weapons cuts (from 2,200 to 1,550 on each side).

Yesterday she thanked representatives of more than a dozen faith-based organizations — several Catholic groups among them –that were instrumental in the campaign to get New START ratified by the Senate and said that their networks will be needed again to as the Obama administration turns its attention to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Even though the U.S. is a signatory to the pact that ends all nuclear weapons testing, the Senate voted against ratification in 1999. But Gottemoeller, a Catholic who holds a degree in Russian from Georgetown University, said she thinks there’s enough momentum coming off of the New START campaign that the multilateral pact can be approved.

Admitting the effort won’t be easy, Gottemoeller remains optimistic because of the bipartisanship that emerged among senators during the New START debate in December.

Gottemoeller explained to the groups that she saw senators working together to resolve differences and understand other points of view on the treaty. She found it gratifying to observe how more and more senators who initially opposed the pact came to understand that New START would ensure America’s security.

The result was a 71-26 vote to ratify the agreement.

That bodes well for the test ban treaty, she said after being honored for her work on New START by the groups during a reception at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill.

The test ban treaty’s verification regime includes international monitoring, regular consultation, on-site inspections and confidence-building measures. It was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996 and 182 countries, including five nuclear weapons states, are signatories. In all, 153 nations have ratified the treaty but China and the U.S. are not among them.

The strongest objections from senators focus on the U.S. ability to modernize its nuclear stockpiles. Gottemoeller is hoping the faith community’s voices will come through again in stressing the moral message that the world will be a much safer place with the test ban treaty in place.

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