The Senate has ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia, which would reduce the number of nuclear warheads in both nations by one-third of their current levels.
The Russian Duma Defense Committee must approve the measure before it is enacted. According to Reuters, Russia's lower parliament house was expected to ratify New START by the end of last week.
On Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate voted 71 to 26 to approve the agreement, exceeding the two-thirds majority that is required by the Constitution for treaty ratification. Although there were two nonbinding amendments added to the resolution of ratification, Republicans' efforts to alter the treaty's language were defeated by Democrats who argued that any significant changes would have effectively killed the deal with Russia.
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said that the treaty will send a message to Iran and North Korea that the international community is determined to quell the nuclear ambitions of unlawful nations. He added that Americans will also benefit from having "fewer Russian missiles aimed at them."
In response to the Senate's ratification, the European Union (EU) congratulated lawmakers for moving forward on disarmament commitments.
"I now look forward to the further ratification by the Russian parliament which will give both countries an historic opportunity to enhance global security by reducing the number of deployed strategic warheads and their delivery systems and by establishing a verification system to the benefit of both sides," said Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.