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Russian, U.S. Lawmakers to Meet on Arms Control Treaty

Russian and U.S. lawmakers plan to meet after an April nuclear security summit in Washington to discuss ratifying a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, RIA Novosti reported today (see GSN, Feb. 4).

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged last July to cut their nations' respective strategic arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 deployed nuclear warheads under the new treaty. Negotiators have reportedly also agreed to reduce each state's arsenal of nuclear delivery vehicles -- missiles, submarines and bombers -- to between 700 and 800, down from the 1,100-vehicle limit set by the leaders in July.

"The work on the text (of a new treaty) is almost completed. After the presidents sign the treaty ... it will be the task of the (U.S.) Senate and Russia's Federal Assembly ... to ratify the agreement," said Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's international affairs committee.

Margelov said many members of the two bodies lack familiarity with the work that was needed to implement the 1991 arms control pact, which expired in December.

"That is why a large educational work is needed," he said in Washington. "That is why we agreed today with my colleague from the Senate, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska (D), to organize immediately after the April nuclear summit a joint meeting of our ... working group here, in Washington ... in order to discuss our working schedule, as the presidents agreed on the coordinated ratification of the treaty" (RIA Novosti, Feb. 5).

"It would be a mistake to claim that we need the ratification of the new START treaty more than the Americans," the lawmaker added, according to ITAR-Tass. "We also have a lot of those wishing to increase the armaments, and they also have enough of such people. Therefore, we equally need the ratification" (ITAR-Tass I, Feb. 5).

The U.S. State Department yesterday avoided confirming recent reports that an agreement on the treaty was imminent and that it might be signed this spring in Prague, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We are optimistic that with the START negotiations having reconvened this week in Geneva, that ... the remaining issues can be resolved and negotiations completed rather quickly," said spokesman P.J. Crowley.

"With that said, I wouldn't put a particular time-line on it," he said (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Feb. 4). "Let’s get across the finish line, and then we can figure out where we go from there," ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying (ITAR-Tass II, Feb. 5).

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