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Russian Federation Council ratifies new START treaty

The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, approved the new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) with the United States Wednesday.

The bill was supported unanimously, as all 137 council members who took part in the meeting voted for it, the state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, said both Russia and the U.S. have done a lot of work to promote the ratification of the new treaty.

"The U.S. administration, and the Democrats in the Senate and some Republicans have made unprecedented efforts to push the treaty through and get it ratified," Margelov told Russian senators during the START ratification debates.

This indicates that the new arms reduction pact meets the interests of both countries, he said.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told the Federation Council Wednesday that Russia is unable to reach the limit on strategic missiles set in the new START even in 10 years.

"We have a program for the coming 10 years, which says how many missiles will enter combat duty. But even then we will not reach the parameters listed in by START," Serdyukov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

Even after Russia fulfills its state armaments program in 2020, it will still have a gap between the actual volume of strategic armaments and the limit set in the treaty, he said.

Moscow and Washington signed the new START on April 8, 2010 in Prague. The treaty, which calls for a big cut in nuclear weapons from both sides, has been widely seen as an effort for Russia and the U.S. to "reset" their relations.

According to the new treaty, both countries must reduce the number of their strategic missiles by two-fold to 800 units, and reduce the number of warheads by one third to 1,550.

The treaty has been passed by the State Duma, or the lower house of the Russian parliament, in the third and final reading Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate ratified the pact on Dec. 22 last year.

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