Russian MPs cool on missile treaty after US vote: official

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A Russian parliamentary committee may withdraw its recommendation to ratify a new nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States after the results of the mid-term polls, an official said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in April but the accord has still to be ratified by the Russian lower house, the State Duma, or the US Senate.

The passage of the treaty -- which envisages major nuclear weapons cuts -- through the Senate already looked complicated before the elections and the polls have seen Republicans pick up seats at the expense of Democrats.

"I think that today we are going to cancel our recommendation to ratify the agreement," said the chairman of the Russian Duma's foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev.

"If the 'lame duck' senators from the old make-up cannot do this in the next weeks then the chances of ratification in the new Senate will be radically lower than they were until now," he told the Interfax news agency.

By early Wednesday, the Republicans had 46 seats in the US Senate against 51 for the Democrats out of 100 seats total. US Senate ratification for presidential treaties requires 67 votes, with Republicans traditionally less enthusiastic on diplomatic advances with Russia.

The new treaty is a cornerstone of a much-touted "reset" in relations under Obama and the failure of the legislative chambers to ratify the treaty risks turning into a major diplomatic embarrassment.

© 2010 AFP

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