Senate may vote soon on Russia nuclear arms treaty: Clinton

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Republican senators are close to bringing a nuclear arms treaty with Russia to a vote this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview released Friday.

"It's like a no-hit game. We've made a lot of progress, but it's not done until it's done," Clinton told The Cable, a Foreign Policy magazine blog, on the sidelines of security talks in Bahrain.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, said early Thursday that negotiations were making progress toward unlocking Republican opposition and setting the stage for a vote.

Clinton predicted the treaty will secure the 67 yes votes needed to implement it if and when the deal reaches the Senate floor.

"I believe we have enough votes that recognize the national security importance of doing this. But I'm not counting the chickens until they vote," the chief US diplomat said.

The administration hopes to have the Senate vote on the treaty before Republicans, who made major gains in November elections, take their seats next month in a new Senate where President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats face a sharply reduced majority.

Republicans have vowed to block action on the treaty this year, seeking ironclad assurances that the treaty would not handcuff US plans to deploy a missile defense system and calling for billions of dollars to pay for upkeep of Washington's nuclear arsenal.

But some have also privately said over the past few months that they aim to deny Obama what would be a major diplomatic victory.

© 2010 AFP

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