The Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) has on Friday passed, in the first reading with a majority of votes, the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States.
The pact was approved by 350 votes from United Russia, largest party at the State Duma, against 85 votes mainly from the opposition Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, Russia’s state-run Interfax News Agency reported.
The move comes just one day after the US Senate passed the treaty, signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart Barack Obama in Prague on April 8, 2010.
The treaty, a follow-up to the 1991 START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, START II and the 2002 Treaty of Moscow (SORT) due to expire in December 2012, reduces the number of operationally-inactive stockpile of nuclear warheads at both superpowers to 1,550 warheads each.
It limits the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 800.
Also, it will limit the number of deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700.
Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged the State Duma to pass the document, warning that failure to do so would harm Russia’s picture in the international community.
In an address to the lower house, he called on the MPs to follow the example of their US counterparts, who did not introduce any amendments to the treaty.
The Duma is scheduled to reconvene for the second reading of the pact after the New Year holidays.