IRAN, NORTH KOREA, AND THE GOP CAUCUS ROOM…. Richard Burt was the chief U.S. negotiator for the START-1 treaty with the former Soviet Union in 1991, and appeared on PBS’s “Newshour” last night to talk about the pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START. His perspective is worth paying attention to. (via Matt Duss)

“[I]n thinking about the problem of ratification or non-ratification, we have to look at the consequences of what happens if this treaty goes down. We lose the verification system that has already lapsed under the treaty that I negotiated. We miss the opportunity to improve relations with the Russians, who have supported us on Iran, and U.N. sanctions, and increasingly in Afghanistan. And we lose all credibility on the problem of stopping nuclear proliferation.

“…[T]here are only two governments in the world that wouldn’t like to see this treaty ratified: the government in Tehran and the government in North Korea.”

That’s not hyperbole. If one were to visualize international affairs as a series of axes, we’d see Iran and North Korea together, hoping to see the ratification fail. And as it turns out, much of the Senate Republican caucus is on the same side, though they’re obviously driven by very different motivations.

And not just current Senate Republicans, either. As if proponents needed a reminder as to why time is of the essence, all 10 incoming freshman Republican senators wrote a joint letter today, urging their future colleagues not to ratify the treaty in the lame-duck session.

Sure. Of course. Republican games are only delaying inspection of Russia’s long-range nuclear bases and making things easier on Ahmadinejad. Why rush?

As for what’s next, Slate‘s Fred Kaplan believes New START ratification is still possible, and presents some worthwhile ideas to make it happen.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.