Russia's parliament may ratify START before year-end: deputy

22nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia's lower house of parliament may ratify the new START nuclear disarmament treaty before the end of the year if it is passed as expected by the US Senate, a top lawmaker said Wednesday.

"If the Senate ratifies the treaty, our committee may call an emergency meeting to discuss the document," Leonid Slutsky, the deputy chairman of the the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"In either case, it is much better to enter the New Year with a ratified treaty in hand," Slutsky said.

The debate may take place on Friday, the last day of the Duma's autumn session, ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed source in the chamber as saying.

"If START successfully passes its US Congressional hearing, there are no obstacles to it being submitted for discussion on December 24 -- the last day of the autumn session," the Duma source said.

However, another source told the agency that lawmakers were "tensely watching" the Senate debate because Republicans opposed to the treaty were still expected to attach amendments to the historic deal.

With the White House's blessing, lawmakers planned to attach symbolic amendments to the resolution of ratification, recommitting the United States to deploying a robust missile shield and ensuring upkeep of its nuclear arsenal.

Unlike amendments to the treaty itself, these would not alter the treaty, and therefore would not effectively kill the accord by forcing a renegotiation.

But a Duma foreign affairs source said the amendments "would significantly affect the entire (ratification) process."

The same source added, however, that it was "important to support the political objective of synchronising the ratification process."

The US Senate voted to end debate on the historic pact on Tuesday and was expected to ratify the measure in a Wednesday vote.

© 2010 AFP

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