Moscow: Russia on Monday said that any
attempts by US Republicans to "fix" the new START treaty would
spell the end of the historic nuclear disarmament pact between
the two former Cold War foes.
The US Senate was expected to hold a vote on the
nuclear arms control pact on Tuesday despite a last-minute bid
by Republicans to change the text`s wording to make sure it
does not block the deployment of a missile shield in Europe.
Russia has resisted the systems as potentially harmful
to its own nuclear deterrence and today said that any
tinkering with the wording would effectively kill the pact.
"The START agreement, which was drafted on the basis
of strict parity, completely meets the national interests of
both Russia and the United States," Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov told the Interfax news agency.
"It cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new
US President Barack Obama has argued that the
agreement not only makes the world safer but also improves
ties with Russia and bolsters the position of President Dmitry
Medvedev -- seen as a modernising force in Washington.
Leading Democrats yesterday said they believed they
had enough votes to pass the treaty and slash both sides`
arsenals to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.
Senators this weekend rejected two Republican
amendments to strip out language in the preamble tying
offensive nuclear weapons to defensive systems.
But Republican Minority Whip Jon Kyl yesterday said
that "this treaty needs to be fixed."
He and other Republicans suggested delaying the vote
until next year -- an idea rejected by the Obama
administration amid fears that an even presence of Republicans
in Congress next year would make passage even more difficult.
Lavrov encouraged Washington to move quickly but
appeared to put no time limit on a final vote.
"We would prefer not to think about the negative
consequences" of this treaty not being passed," Russia`s top
diplomat told the agency.
"We expect the ratification process to be completed in