WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate ratified a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia that has been backed by a number of Jewish groups.
The Senate on Wednesday voted 71-26 to ratify the START treaty.
The vote — 58 in the Democratic caucus and 13 Republicans — was four more than the two-thirds majority needed for ratification.
The Obama administration and top Jewish Democratic senators had lobbied Jewish groups to express support for the treaty, saying it was critical to persuading Russia to isolate Iran.
Most major groups backed the treaty, although the American Israel Public Affairs Committee did not announce where it stands.
"It is our hope that this treaty will serve as a step toward security and disarmament not only for our two countries but also for the rest of the world, in particular the Middle East," the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center said in a statement. "The treaty’s ratification will certainly strengthen continuing U.S. efforts encouraging Russia to pressure Iran to cease nuclear development. The danger posed by a nuclear Iran threatens Israel’s security, North American interests and the stability of the region, in part by increasing the risk of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists."
The American Council for World Jewry, one of the first groups to endorse ratification, said ratification means that "Russia’s indispensable support in global security – which includes blocking Iran’s rogue nuclear program – will not be impeded."
Opposing the treaty were a group of Republican senators, led by Rep. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who said its verification measures were inadequate and that it unnecessarily reduced the U.S. profile in Europe.