Russo-US strategic offensive reduction Treaty likely to be ratified by Duma

The centrist majority in the State Duma will support the ratification of the Russo-American Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions.

The deputy chairman of the Duma's international affairs committee and head of the United Russia party's commission for international policy, Konstantin Kosachev, has told RIA Novosti that the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia factions, as well as the Regions of Russia deputy group, that all represent United Russia in the lower chamber of parliament, will support the treaty's ratification on May 14th.

The parliamentarian recalled that the US Senate had ratified the document in February and it was then thought that the Duma would follow suit. "We had no doubt that ratifying this Treaty was the right course, but the State Duma Committee for International Affairs asked for the issue to be postponed," Kosachev said. He explained this move by saying that many deputies had become caught up in the anti-American sentiments in connection with the war in Iraq, which could have damaged their confidence that the document entirely corresponded to Russia's national interests.

He stressed that the opponents of the Treaty's ratification were basing their arguments on two points. They firstly refer to the fact that it will be allegedly difficult to implement the document, as the Treaty says nothing about how the cuts in nuclear weapons will be effected, i.e. will they be destroyed, stored or scrapped in another way.

Kosachev believes that this criticism is unfounded because the Treaty states that Start 1 must remain in full force, and that the document includes measures to ensure control over cuts in nuclear weapons.

He also said that, following the ratification of the Treaty, additional talks would be needed with the Americans to establish which specific forms of verification would be used, i.e. checks to make sure the document is being implemented.

The second counter-argument that the opponents to the Treaty are putting forward is that cuts to the level 1, 700 - 2,200 warheads would not allow Russia to guarantee its own security, the deputy said.

"I consider these arguments to be populist, as Russian experts without exception have come to the conclusion that Russia would able to guarantee, if needed, the inevitability of a retaliatory strike, even if its nuclear potential were at a lower level than that stipulated by the Treaty," Kosachev emphasised.

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