News Releases

Thursday, March 29, 2012         

Isakson Demands Explanation from President Over 'Flexibility' Comment to Russian President
Says United States Must Not Waver on Commitment to Missile Defense

WASHINGTON -U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today on the Senate floor demanded an explanation from President Obama over his comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" on issues such as missile defense after the 2012 presidential election. The president was unaware that his comments were being picked up on camera and on a microphone at the time.

Isakson, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also reiterated that the United States must not waiver on its commitment to missile defense. On December 22, 2010, Isakson voted to ratify the strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia known as New START Treaty, and it was ratified by a 71-26 vote.  Before it was ratified by the U.S. Senate, the treaty had been signed on April 8, 2010, by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.

"I find the president's comments to President Medvedev very troublesome because I spent many months working on the New START Treaty as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This comprehensive treaty is important to America, the free word and quite frankly, to Russia. To that end, I believe that it is important that the president explain what he meant by his comments and how 'flexibility' would be implied if he were reelected president of the United States," said Isakson. "When the Senate ratified the New START Treaty in December 2010, there was neither 'wiggle room' nor need for flexibility. The United States was committed to missile defense in Europe, and we remain committed to it to this day. It is important that the president reaffirm this commitment. It is too important to the country and our allies."

Isakson also joined more than 40 of his colleagues in sending a letter to Obama on March 27, 2012, demanding that the President explain what he meant by his comment to President Medvedev. Click here to view the letter.

The New START treaty has received support from many current and former members of the United States defense community. Former national security leaders from the past seven administrations have voiced their support for New START, including former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all signed and ratified arms control treaties with Moscow during their administrations.