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Better to START Late than Never

Eight months after the treaty's signing, New START passes 71-26

Better to START Late than Never

After a cloture vote that passed 67-28 on Tuesday, the Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to ratify New START by 71-26 votes. The treaty limits both Russia and the United States to no more than 1,550 nuclear warheads each, down from the previous limit of 2,200. Additionally, New START reinstates the ability of both countries to conduct inspections of the others’ arsenal, which helps in the prevention of nuclear materials disappearing into the hands of terrorist organizations. Several senators came around after assurances that New START would not impede plans to modernize the US’s aging nuclear weapons complex or hinder US development of missile defense systems.

The Russian parliament was expected to vote to approve the treaty early next year, but now that the US Senate has ratified it, the vote may take place before the end of 2010.

The Consensus for American Security released a statement shortly after the vote, saying “The New START Treaty is a triumph of reasoned and principled discourse, and a reflection of the seriousness of the Senate's commitment to the security of the American people.”

Why did it take eight months to get this done? Will the Russian Parliament definitely approve New START now that the US Senate has? What is the next step in improving relations between the US and Russia, and reducing the threat of the use of nuclear weapons?