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Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution establishes responsibilities for treaty ratification. It provides that the President "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur." Contrary to common perceptions, the Senate does not ratify treaties; it provides its advice and consent to ratification by passing a resolution of ratification. The President then "ratifies" a treaty by signing the instrument of ratification and either exchanging it with the other parties to the treaty or depositing it at a central repository (such as the United Nations).
In Section 33 of the Arms Control and Disarmament Act (P.L. 87-297, as amended), Congress outlined the relationship between arms control agreements and the treaty ratification process. This law provides that "no action shall be taken under this or any other law that will obligate the United States to disarm or to reduce or to limit the Armed Forces or armaments of the United States, except pursuant to the treaty-making power of the President under the Constitution or unless authorized by further affirmative legislation by the Congress of the United States."
In practice, most U.S. arms control agreements have been submitted as treaties, a word reserved in U.S. usage for international agreements submitted to the Senate for its approval in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. The Senate clearly expects future arms control obligations would be made only pursuant to treaty in one of its declarations in the resolution of ratification of the START Treaty. The declaration stated: "The Senate declares its intention to consider for approval international agreements that would obligate the United States to reduce or limit the Armed Forces or armaments of the United States in a militarily significant manner only pursuant to the treaty power set forth in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution."
Nonetheless, some arms control agreements have been made by other means. Several "confidence building" measures …