A key Russian legislative panel annulled its call for ratification of a new nuclear arms control treaty with the United States based on the outcome of yesterday's U.S. midterm election, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Nov. 1).
U.S. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April signed the "New START" pact, which requires their nations to each cut deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads, down from the maximum of 2,200 allowed by 2012 under an earlier agreement. They must both also restrict their active nuclear delivery vehicles to 700, with another 100 platforms allowed in reserve.
"The foreign affairs commission has taken this decision (to withdraw its recommendation)," Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov said.
He warned of the reduced likelihood of U.S. Senate ratification should a vote on the treaty be delayed until the new Congress takes its place next year. Republicans picked up a number of seats yesterday, meaning additional GOP senators would have to be persuaded to support the pact after Jan. 1. A total of 67 votes are required for Senate approval.
"If the 'lame-duck' senators from the old makeup cannot do this in the next weeks then the chances of ratification in the new Senate will be radically lower than they were until now," Kosachyov said, referring to senators in the current Congress, which is slated to meet until Christmas (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, Nov. 2).