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28 Jan, 2011 10:59

Medvedev signs nuclear reduction treaty

Medvedev signs nuclear reduction treaty

Dmitry Medvedev has signed the ratification document on a new arms reduction treaty with the US after it was approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament.

The Russian president announced the news to the National Security Council on Friday.“Today I signed the ratification bill on the New START treaty. This is a very important event for our entire country, considering the understandings that Russia has with the US. The Americans have come their way and we have also accomplished the process on our side and now the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council have adopted all the necessary papers,” the president said. “We made some clarifications which are quite similar and proportionate to what the US Senate did, very symmetrical. And they reflect the concerns that our deputies have."The international agreement with the US provides for the mutual reduction of deployed nuclear warheads and delivery weapons over the next seven years. The deal may be extended by agreement between both parties.The treaty will come into force as soon as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov exchanges the ratification documents with the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. That meeting is expected in early February.Earlier this week, the Russian Upper House of Parliament, the Federation Council, ratified the New START to reduce the Russian and American nuclear arsenals.Russian legislators stressed Moscow could withdraw from the deal if it felt threatened by US missile defense plans in Europe.The US Senate backed the treaty earlier in December 2010, following heated public debate. The congressmen amended the treaty prior to ratification.Several changes were also introduced by the Russian parliament in response to the American interpretation of the text.The amendments drawn up by both sides are non-binding, meaning that both countries will have to keep to their obligations.The agreement was signed by Presidents Medvedev and Obama last April and will slash the countries' nuclear arsenals by a third each.Andrey Klimov, who is the deputy head of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, says the additions to the treaty made by the Russian and American parliaments will only help mutual understanding. “Now we have very clear papers that can be highly useful for [the] implementation of this treaty for a period of at least ten years,” he said.

RT’s Egor Piskunov says Russia did everything in its power to hasten the ratification of the treaty, though which they demonstrated the importance of the document for the country, while the American side was dragging feet with the ratification. That was thanks to the Republican Party of the US, which managed to get control of the House of Representatives.

According to the president of New Eurasia Foundation, Andrey Kortunov, despite different interpretations of the New START treaty by Russia and the USA, the fact that countries are able to agree on principle matters is important. ”I think that what is important is the trend that we are able to conclude this treaty, we are able to agree on some fundamentals. Of course, there are differences and I think that in a way the treaty will depend on the overall state of political relations between Moscow and Washington,” Kortunov said.”If the political relations are getting better, probably we will not remember about differences in interpretations that we have right now. If relations go sour, definitely, these differences will manifest themselves,” he added.

Political expert Ivan Timofeev from Moscow State University of International Relations believes that although the sides have different views on a number of items, the New START treaty will last. ”I do not think that these differences in the interpretations are fundamental,” he said. “Of course, there are some potential problems, such as the issue of a missile defense system, and this issue is reflected in the preamble and it is not strictly regulated in the treaty, so it is a potential problem for the future. However, I do think that currently the treaty is beneficial for both sides and it will last.”

It is also expected that the accord could open doors to new opportunities, says head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Federation Council, Mikhail Margelov. “We are also moving forward on Russia's WTO accession,” Margelov said. “We have to have more ties, more docking mechanisms, more bridges. The more interdependent we are, the better it is for our future.”

Read Mikhail Margelov on the issue here