US welcomes Russian Duma call for New START ratification

The New START arms control treaty, which re-establishes mutual inspections for each country’s nuclear arsenals, is due for ratification in the Russian Duma . Having cleared the United States Senate approval stage, the treaty is due for a third and final vote in the Russian parliament this week, having been approved by the International Affairs Committee.

"Today the committee discussed two drafts of supplementary statements of the State Duma and an alternative draft of the house statement prepared by the Communist Party faction," panel Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov said.

The treaty specifies numerous, mutually agreed limits on deployed nuclear launchers and warheads. Deployed strategic nuclear warheads, the most significant category, would be capped at 1550 each. While the smooth passage of the treaty has been at times threatened by both sides, particularly due to US objections over the rules used to count warheads, both sides are eager for verification activities to resume.
There have been no cross-inspections since the lapsing of the last START treaty in late 2009, and the new treaty, signed only in April 2010, will be widely welcomed as a confidence building measure. Once passed, progress should be possible on other nuclear-related matters, such as a US/Russia nuclear fuel pact signed earlier this month, known as a 1-2-3 agreement.

The third Russian reading is expected on Tuesday before the treaty is sent to the upper house for another vote, with inspections expected to resume later this year.