World News Brief, Thursday November 18

Republicans threaten to block nuclear treaty despite White House pleas (+ Clinton & Gates op-ed); China promises fire safety standards after 53 die in Shanghai; NATO leader talks of Afghanistan combat role beyond 2014; Iraq President refuses to execute Tariq; and more

Top of the Agenda: New START Passage Threatened

The Senate's chief Republican negotiator on the New START Treaty, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), says the nuclear treaty with Russia (WashPost) shouldn't be considered until next year. If Kyl--who helped defeat the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty more than a decade ago--is successful in blocking a vote in the lame-duck session, it could mean jeopardizing the treaty, which needs sixty-seven votes to pass. It would be less likely to pass in the new Congress because of Democratic losses in the midterm elections.

Kyl's announcement came only days after President Barack Obama said that congressional ratification of New START before the end of the year was a priority. The move infuriated the White House, which said it would keep pressing for the treaty's approval (NYT). Vice President Joe Biden urged Congress to ratify New START (BostonGlobe), saying that failure to do so would "endanger our national security." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned to meet with congressional leaders today (Bloomberg) to push for the treaty's passage.


Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argue for New START's passage in this Washington Post op-ed.

The United States and Russia should make cuts in their nuclear stockpiles beyond the New START treaty, CFR's Micah Zenko argues in this Council Special Report.


Read the text of New START.

This Backgrounder looks at the Senate debate on New START.

A White House fact sheet on the treaty can be found here.


PACIFIC RIM: China Orders Fire-Safety Overhaul

Promising a crackdown on fire-safety standards, the Chinese government scrambled to quell public outrage (MSNBC) after a fire that gutted a new high-rise in Shanghai, killing fifty-three people and spreading concern about safety standards in China's construction boom.

Even as Chinese society is growing more robust, its authoritarian state remains committed to social and political control (ForeignAffairs). Emerging tensions between the two could push forward social and political reform, write George J. Gilboy and Eric Heginbotham.

China's main economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, is putting together a package of price controls (FT) and other measures to limit food inflation, a sign that debate is breaking out over how to tackle rising prices.



- Afghan Combat Role Could Pass 2014
- Talabani Blocks Tariq Execution Order
- Nigeria Reports Iran to UN Security Council


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