Russian State Duma Ratifies New START Nuclear Weapons Treaty

MOSCOW, Russia, January 25, 2011 (ENS) – The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, today ratified the new START treaty limiting U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons by a vote of 350 to 96, with one abstention.

The Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament, is expected to vote Wednesday to approve the treaty.

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama signed the treaty in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 8, 2010. The text of the treaty signed by the Russian and U.S. presidents was unaltered by the Duma vote.

The U.S. Senate ratified the new START treaty on December 22, 2010.

President Barack Obama speaks with President Dimitry Medvedev, January 25, 2011 (Photo courtesy The White House)
President Dimitry Medvedev, January 25, 2011 (Photo courtesy The Kremlin)

President Obama called President Medvedev this morning to congratulate him on today’s approval by the Duma of the new START treaty, and the two leaders pledged to build on this progress as they continue their close partnership in 2011.

A statement from the Kremlin said President Medvedev called the treaty, “one of the most important achievements in Russian-American partnership in recent time.”

President Obama also expressed his “deepest condolences” for yesterday’s terrorist attack on the Domodedovo Airport in which 35 people were killed.

“The Kremlin said, “Both leaders stated their intentions to engage in close cooperation to eradicate terrorism, which threatens the entire civilized world. They stressed that given this context, it is particularly important to cooperate in the interests of strengthening international stability and security.”

The U.S. and Russian leaders recognized that the new START treaty does strengthen international stability and security.

The new treaty will be valid for 10 years if no new agreement on the reduction of and limitations on strategic offensive armaments is achieved during that period.

This treaty replaces the START I Treaty of 1991, which expired on December 4, 2009. It also replaces the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) signed on May 24, 2002.

The new treaty sets maximum limits on the nuclear forces of Russia and the United States:

  • 1,550 deployed warheads for each side, which is approximately one-third smaller than the SORT treaty level
  • 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, deployed submarine-based ballistic missiles and deployed heavy bombers, which is half the START level
  • 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles, deployed and non-deployed launchers of submarine-based ballistic missiles, and deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers

Each side will have the right to choose the makeup and structure of its own strategic offensive armaments.

Launcher for Russia’s new Topol RS-12M intercontinental ballistic missile, shown for the first time at the Victory Day parade on May 9, 2010 on Moscow’s Red Square. (Photo by Vitalius)

The treaty spells out rules of the exchange of data, notifications, remodeling and elimination, inspections, verification procedures and confidence building measures.

The new verification mechanism will be simpler and less expensive than the one provided by the START I Treaty, but it will ensure irreversibility, verifiability and transparency of the reduction process.

Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov told the media that the Duma appealed to other nuclear powers such as India, Pakistan and China to join the process of reductions and limitations of strategic offensive armaments.

In addition Kosachyov said, the Duma legislation notes that the United States has both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

“We urge the U.S. to bring those armaments back to the national territory,” he said, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.

In a second statement, the Duma appealed to the Russian government for “sustainable development of the national defense industry and the national missile defense and early missile warning systems,” said Kosachyov.

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