Russia puts its own addendum to START treaty

Friday, January 14, 2011

MOSCOW - Russia has added its own non-binding addendum to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), aping a move by the US legislature that led Russian legislators to delay the document’s ratification last month.

The document, passed by the lower house, or Duma, Friday, set out conditions for the treaty to come into force. A final vote on the treaty is expected later this month.

Diplomats had originally hoped that both the US and Russia could finally ratify the treaty in December. But, when US lawmakers attached a non-binding resolution to the treaty during a final vote just before Christmas, Russian lawmakers reacted sceptically.

The US resolution authorized US President Barack Obama to exchange instruments of ratification with the Russian government, imposed requirements for the US president to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty, and stated the Senate’s “understanding” that the New START treaty “does not impose any limitations on the deployment of missile defences” other than requirements already in the treaty.

US officials insisted that the resolution’s language does not change any of the agreements in the treaty.

The new Russian addendum, for its part, stipulates that the treaty can only be in effect so long as Russia is not endangered by new US defence initiatives.

Previous US missile defence plans have caused Russia to back away from similar arm control treaties in the past.

Parliamentarian Andrey Kokoshin, of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, told the Interfax news agency that the document was of great importance for national security.

Konstantin Kosachevm, who chairs the Duma’s Foreign Relations Committee, said the document would be in Russia’s interests.

The New START treaty was signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last April in Prague.

It binds the two sides to cut their numbers of active warheads to 1,550 within seven years, or about 30 percent from the 1991 treaty, which expired in December 2009 and reinstitutes some verification systems between the two countries.

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