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Russian Parliament Could Ratify US Nuclear Treaty Friday

President Barack Obama shares a toast in the Oval Office with the members of his National Security Staff who worked on the New START nuclear arms control agreement, 22 Dec 2010.
President Barack Obama shares a toast in the Oval Office with the members of his National Security Staff who worked on the New START nuclear arms control agreement, 22 Dec 2010.

Russia's parliament could ratify a new nuclear arms control treaty with the United States as soon as Friday.

The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Boris Gryzlov, said Thursday that the State Duma could vote Friday if the ratification measure passed by the U.S. Senate does not change the text of the treaty.

The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, Sergei Mironov, told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency that his chamber also could vote Friday if the Duma approves the treaty first.

The U.S. Senate voted 71-26 in favor of the New START treaty Wednesday.   

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed the Senate's approval of the treaty, which cuts the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia and sets up a joint verification system.

Still, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russian officials wanted to take a close look at the wording of the U.S. Senate resolution before moving forward with a resolution of their own.

U.S. President Barack Obama told a White House news conference Wednesday the treaty's passage sends a powerful signal to the world.

He thanked Senate Democrats and Republicans for approving what he says is his top national security priority.

Some Senate Republicans opposed the treaty, warning it could harm America's capability to defend itself from missile attacks.

But the treaty has the support of most senior U.S. military leaders and some former Republican secretaries of State, including Colin Powell, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger.

President Obama and President Medvedev signed New START in April.  It replaces an arms control treaty signed in the waning days of the Cold War in 1991.

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