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    The State Duma

    Russian parliament approves New START on 2nd reading

    © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Fedorenko
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    The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, voted for ratification of a new strategic arms reduction deal with the United States on the second reading on Friday, setting its terms for approving the pact.

    The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, voted for ratification of a new strategic arms reduction deal with the United States on the second reading on Friday, setting its terms for approving the pact.

    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 draft law was adopted by a 349-57 vote with two abstentions.

    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 lower house is expected to adopt the draft law in the third and final reading on January 25. The upper house could hold its ratification vote as soon as it returns to session on January 26.

    MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti)

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