New START Treaty passes key vote
Following numerous controversial debates, the US Senate has finally ratified the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between Russia and America.
One could say that President Barack Obama received a very expensive but long-awaited Christmas present. The document, which was signed by the two presidents on April 8th in Prague, got the majority of votes in the upper house of US parliament. Its future depended entirely on the decision of Congress and the Russian Federal Assembly. The situation in the Senate gave more cause for concern, especially after the recent mid-term elections, which inflicted a painful defeat upon the ruling Democratic Party. The winning Republicans have always made it ambiguously clear that the world will have to wait until they are ready to respond to the new agreement. This is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in this respect:
"We have to give credit to Barack Obama and his team, who exerted such momentous efforts to ensure START ratification in the Senate. Along with Democrat senators, they managed to secure its inclusion in the agenda of the so-called “lame duck session”. And still, the fate of the document was far from certain just a few days ago. Amid the consequent fierce debate, the Republicans started to issue amendments, which could have virtually buried the treaty. Among them was the proposal to withdraw a paragraph concerning links between strategic offensive and defensive weapons. Some of the proposals were far-fetched to say the least, like for instance, the requirement for Russia to return hardware and armaments abandoned by Georgia during the 2008 conflict in the Caucasus to the US. It might even sound funny if it wasn’t so sad. Fortunately, most of the senators came to realize this and rejected all amendments proposed by the Republicans."
The START-3 needed at least 67 votes to be ratified, but the final results showed that the document was approved by a total of 71 senators. Thirteen Republicans joined 56 Democrats (one of them in hospital) and two independents in giving endorsement to the pact. So, the White House and the democratic faction in the Senate are celebrating a well-deserved clear-cut victory. President Barack Obama did not conceal his satisfaction over the ratification, when he spoke at a news conference:
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has also praised the finally finished ratification process for the bilateral arms reduction treaty. Now it is all up to the Russian lawmakers, who need to act in compliance with the two presidents’ arrangement to synchronize the process. It cannot be ruled out that the State Duma will hold the voting already on Friday, December 24th. The chances for the agreement to be ratified in Russia are much higher than they were in the United States. So, the ratified START Treaty may become a perfect Christmas and New Year gift for the entire international community, which will help make life considerably safer."