Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today formally called for his nation's legislature to endorse a proposed nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, May 19).
The lower and upper houses of Russia's parliament must each vote to bring the pact into force (see GSN, May 17).
"Today I have submitted for ratification the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms," Medvedev said at a meeting of his United Russia party. "I am asking United Russia deputies, the entire State Duma, the Federation Council to handle this document with care and implement what I spoke about with [U.S. President Barack Obama] -- synchronized ratification, no sooner and no later."
Medvedev and Obama in April signed the replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The new agreement would obligate the two former Cold War adversaries to cap their fielded strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads, down from the maximum of 2,200 demanded of each by 2012 under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The new deal would also limit U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear delivery vehicles to 700, with another 100 platforms allowed in reserve.
Obama earlier this month submitted the treaty to Capitol Hill. U.S. ratification requires only Senate approval.
"There is a need for it to go through the crucible of parliament practically at the same time, then we will achieve the most trust," Medvedev said, adding that the Soviet Union had been "cheated" when it ratified the 1991 pact before the United States (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, May 28).
Other nuclear-armed nations are welcome to join the pact, Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's international affairs committee, said yesterday.
"The START treaty means that the two chief nuclear powers are pooling their efforts in the struggle against the proliferation of nuclear weapons while the consistent development of this line presupposes that other members of the nuclear club join the treaty," RIA Novosti quoted the lawmaker as saying.
Still, the nuclear arsenals wielded by Moscow and Washington far outstrip those of other governments, Margelov noted. Some of the other nuclear-armed nations consider a nuclear strike to be "a last resort" measure, he said (RIA Novosti, May 27).