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Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes Arms Treaty; Calls for Permanent Reductions

Saperstein: great accomplishments and missed opportunities


Contact: Alexis Rice or Michael Weiner 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2002 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement today commenting on the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty signed by President Bush and President Putin last week.

The complete statement follows:

This is an agreement of great accomplishments and missed opportunities.

By significantly reducing America and Russia's deployed nuclear weapons, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, signed last week by President Bush and President Putin, marks an important step in the right direction. The Reform Jewish Movement, which for 40 years actively supported efforts to reverse the nuclear arms race, applauds both leaders for recognizing that dramatically cutting nuclear warheads is a key factor in building a world free of violence and destruction and fulfilling the Torah's mandate to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15).

Yet as we praise the treaty for its accomplishments, we also take note of its missed opportunities. Although the agreement slashes each nation's deployed nuclear weapons by as much as 70 percent over the next ten years and comes in the form of a binding treaty rather than an informal accord, it also allows both countries to store, rather than destroy, old warheads, ignores the problems associated with Russia's huge collection of short-range tactical nuclear weapons, and fails to address adequately the danger of terrorists stealing warheads from insecure facilities in Russia.

As the Senate moves to ratify the treaty, we urge Senators to consider these important concerns. Meanwhile, we join with President Bush and President Putin in working toward a more secure and peaceful world.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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