Moscow: Russia will likely ratify an arms treaty with the United States by the end of the month, a key member of the country`s Parliament said on Friday.
Russia`s lower house of Parliament gave preliminary approval to the treaty before the New Year`s holidays, but decided to delay a final vote to give the Russian side time to study the resolution passed by the US Senate when it ratified the pact last month.
Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the State Duma`s foreign affairs committee, said Russia is now ready to ratify the New START treaty and has written its own amendments to the ratification document "to balance the work that has been done by the Senate”.
He said the State Duma`s legislation would state how Russia`s interpretation of the treaty differed from that of the Senate, but he stressed that the text of the treaty itself would remain unchanged.
"We don`t accept certain interpretations from the American side, they will definitely not accept certain interpretations from the Russian side and then we will have to live with the existing treaty," Kosachyov said in an interview with AP Television News.
The New START treaty would limit each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would re-establish a system for monitoring and verification that ended in late 2009 with the expiration of the previous arms control agreement.
The treaty is a centrepiece of President Barack Obama`s efforts to "reset" ties with Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev.
The US legislation accompanying the treaty addressed Republican concerns that it would restrict US plans to develop a missile defence system. Republicans also had sought increased funding for the US nuclear arsenal.
Kosachyov said the State Duma would take two additional steps in ratifying the treaty: approve one statement addressed to "our American colleagues and partners" and another addressed to the leadership of Russia about the current state of the Russian nuclear arsenal and plans for its future development. He gave no specifics.
The lower house would likely consider the ratification bill in a second reading on January 14, he said, while the third and final reading would likely wait until after the Federation Council, the upper house, returned on January 26. Both houses need to ratify the treaty. Both are under Kremlin control.
"We need to have more success stories in our bilateral relations and this is why I am very much in favour of ratifying the New START treaty as soon as possible." Kosachyov said.