Obama urges Senate to take up Russia nuclear treaty

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President Barack Obama on Thursday urged the full Senate to vote on a landmark nuclear treaty with Russia, after the pact cleared a key committee test despite significant Republican opposition.

Obama called for action in a written statement after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to the full chamber.

"I urge the full Senate to move forward quickly with a vote to approve this Treaty," Obama said.

"I encourage members on both sides of the aisle to give this agreement the fair hearing and bipartisan support that it deserves, and that has been given to past agreements of its kind.

"For like those efforts, this treaty will advance American leadership in the world, while strengthening our national security in the 21st century."

The treaty -- signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Obama at an elaborate ceremony in Prague in April -- restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002.

Senate Republicans worry the accord could hamper US missile defense plans -- a charge denied by the Pentagon -- have concerns about Russian implementation, and want assurances about plans to modernize the existing US nuclear arsenal.

© 2010 AFP

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