Russian parliament approves arms pact with U.S

Reuters , Wednesday 26 Jan 2011

Russia's upper house of parliament ratified the new US nuclear disarmament treaty, the final step in approving the first nuclear pact between the two sides in 20 years

The screen shows the result of the vote in the lower house of parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, 25 January 2011. (AP)

Russia's parliament approved the first nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States in nearly a decade on Wednesday, voting to ratify the pact at the centre of improved ties between the former Cold War foes.

The Federation Council, Russia's upper parliament house, unanimously passed a bill required for ratification of the New START treaty, which Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed in April 2010.

The treaty, approved by the U.S. Senate last month and by Russia's lower parliament house on Tuesday, will commit the countries to ceilings of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads in seven years.

Approval by the Kremlin-controlled parliament was all but certain. Arms control experts say Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal is likely to be near or below the limits in the pact within about half a decade.

The upper house vote sends the ratification bill to Medvedev for his signature. The treaty will enter force with an exchange of ratification documents by U.S. and Russian officials, expected within weeks.

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