The lower house of the Russian parliament on Friday approved amendments to a bill on the ratification of a news arms reduction deal with the United States.
The amendments, developed by the State Duma foreign relations committee, spell out grounds for Russia's withdrawal from the treaty and the president's obligation to adopt a program for the development of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.
The Duma approved the amendments during Friday's debate on the ratification bill. A vote to approve the bill on the second of three readings is expected later in the day.
The new treaty, replacing the START 1 that expired in December 2009, was signed in Prague last April by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama. The document slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.
Grounds for withdrawal include violation of the new START treaty by the United States, the unilateral deployment by the United States of missile defense systems that endanger Russia's national security, and the adoption of strategic non-nuclear weapon systems by the United States without approval by a bilateral Russian-U.S. commission.
The amendments also specify the prerogatives of Russia's executive and legislative branches of government in the treaty's implementation and provide for further negotiations on other types of weapons, in particular missile defense systems.
The U.S. Senate ratified the new arms deal with Russia on December 22, but added several amendments to the resolution on ratification, including a demand to build up U.S. global missile defenses.
The new agreement will come into force after ratification by both houses of the Russian parliament, the State Duma and the Federation Council. The upper house could hold its ratification vote as soon as it returns to session on January 26. The Duma is expected to approve the treaty on third and final reading at around the same time.
MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti)