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17 Jun, 2010 11:57

Putting an end to START rumors

Russia and Washington both seem to be taking a time-out in the matters of the new START treaty.

Though discussions on the ratification of the document kicked off in Russia and the United States on Thursday, US senators and State Duma deputies alike say the final touches should not be expected until later in the year.

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov promised Moscow will try to work on START treaty discussion concurrently with US senators.

“In matters concerning ratification we will strive to make it synchronized,” he said on Thursday. He said though discussions will begin now, the plenary session on START ratification will not happen until later: “We will definitely not put it up for discussion during the spring plenary session, so it’s a matter for the fall session,” Gryzlov said.

Meanwhile, the new treaty, limiting the number of strategic deployment nuclear warheads for both Russia and the United States, has got many Republican senators in a twist.

Many believe the White House and Kremlin are engaged in clandestine talks behind everyone’s backs. But the chief US negotiator on the pact, Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, was quick to dispel the rumors that are permeating the halls of the Senate.

“Let me state unequivocally today on the record before this committee that there were no, I repeat no, backroom deals made in connection with the new START treaty; not on missile defense nor on any other issue," Gottemoeller told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

For its part, Russia is concerned with the ambivalent position the US takes on missile defense systems. Moscow has already said that if a US missile defense plans threaten its security it will withdraw from the pact.

The new START treaty was signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama in April. Both the US Senate and the Russian State Duma will have to ratify the document before it becomes effective.

Irina Galushko, RT