Russia hopes strategic arms treaty with U.S. to be ratified by year-end

Russia hopes strategic arms treaty with U.S. to be ratified by year-end

Moscow hopes that the new Russian-U.S. strategic arms reduction deal will be ratified by the end of this year, a Russian deputy foreign minister said.

The treaty, signed this April, is to be ratified simultaneously by U.S. Senate and both chambers of the Russian parliament, RIA Novosti reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia expects that the ratification process in the U.S. would end "positively."

"It would be an important contribution into strengthening the new spirit of partnership in our relations, and we expect that the Senate would make all the necessary decisions by the end of this year," he said.

"We are committed to simultaneous ratification process. We expect that the United States would complete this process by the end of the year. In any case, we see efforts made in this direction by the administration and a number of influential senators," the Russian diplomat added.

The prospects for the treaty's ratification in the U.S. remain unclear after the November 2 mid-term elections. The Democrats need the support of at least eight Republicans to secure the two-thirds majority required for the treaty's ratification.

The treaty, however, has met strong Republican opposition in the Senate over concerns that it may weaken U.S. anti-missile defenses. U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier expressed their hopes to ratify the pact during the lame-duck session.

The number-two Senate Republican Jon Kyl, who earlier expressed his support for the treaty, said on Tuesday he doubted the ratification process could be completed this year, due to the Senate's busy agenda and the complexity of the treaty.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that failure to pass the strategic arms reduction pact this year "would endanger our national security."

"Without ratification of this Treaty, we will have no Americans on the ground to inspect Russia's nuclear activities, no verification regime to track Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal, less cooperation between the two nations that account for 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, and no verified nuclear reductions," the vice president said in a statement.

He said the pact was "a fundamental part of our relationship with Russia, which has been critical to our ability to supply our troops in Afghanistan and to impose and enforce strong sanctions on the Iranian government."

Kyl, one of his party's leaders on nuclear weapons issues, had earlier threatened to block the treaty until the administration spends more on modernizing the existing nuclear arsenal.

"President Obama has made an extraordinary commitment to ensure the modernization of our nuclear infrastructure, which had been neglected for several years before he took office," Biden said.

"We have made clear our plans to invest $80 billion on modernization over the next decade, and, based on our consultations with Senator Kyl, we plan to request an additional $4.1 billion for modernization over the next five years," he added.

He reiterated that the treaty has "bipartisan support" and was endorsed by prominent former officials from both parties, including six former Secretaries of State, five former defense secretaries and three former national security advisors.

"The time to act is now and we will continue to seek its approval by the Senate before the end of the year," Biden said.

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