WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons divided Republicans and Democrats on Friday as the Senate slogged through debate on a new arms control treaty with Russia.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl argued that the treaty would be a step toward an unrealistic quest.
"I think it's difficult if not impossible to achieve and I question whether it's a good idea at all," Kyl said, arguing that the goal and the treaty divert attention from dealing with real national security threats such as Iran and North Korea.
Obama has acknowledged that eliminating nuclear weapons is unlikely in his lifetime. The treaty to cap nuclear warheads for both countries and allow weapons inspections would be a very modest step toward that goal.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry dismissed the criticism as irrelevant and argued that many presidents, Republicans and Democrats, have talked about the possibility of a world without nuclear weapons.
"For heaven's sake, it's incredible to me that you can't imagine and have a vision of the possibility of a world in which you ultimately work to get there. That's the purpose of human endeavor in this field," Kerry said.