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Ball in Russia's court after US ratifies nuclear arms treaty

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
2 min

Russia's parliament may this week adopt the nuclear arms reduction treaty ratified by the US Senate late Wednesday, but says it may need more time to study the accord. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) was approved by senators after a months-long battle.

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President Dmitry Medvedev, who signed the treaty in Prague in April with US President Barack Obama, welcomed the news of its ratification.

In Russia, the treaty still requires approval from the State Duma lower house of parliament and Federation Council upper house.

Medvedev "expressed hope that the State Duma and Federation Council are ready to examine this question and ratify the document".

Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said that the parliament needed to examine the final document agreed by the US Senate, and it was still awaiting a copy of the original text to examine.

But he added: "If the conditions (in the US Senate resolution) do not affect the basic text of the agreement then we could adopt the treaty tomorrow."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had earlier described the ratification resolution as "a complex document that must be deeply studied".

Russia had warned against attempts by US lawmakers to amend the treaty, with Lavrov this week bluntly stating that the treaty "cannot be reopened" or become "the subject of new negotiations".

Prior to approving the treaty, US lawmakers attached non-binding amendments to the resolution to recommit Washington to deploying a missile defence system, to modernising its nuclear arsenal, and to seeking new talks with Russia on curbing tactical nuclear weapons.

The treaty is a centrepiece of a US-Russia drive spearheaded by Medvedev and Obama to "reset" relations.

It restricts the former foes to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads each, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002, and 800 launchers and bombers.
 

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