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Officials: New START Ratification Process To Begin In May

U.S. Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher
U.S. Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher
WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) -- U.S. and Russian officials say the ratification process for the new START treaty, signed in Prague on April 8, will begin in early May.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, U.S. Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher said she expects the treaty to be sent to the U.S. Senate "early next month."

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Russia's Federation Council, said Russian lawmakers will also start considering the new treaty in the first half of May.

The timetables maintain the possibility of a "synchronized" ratification of the treaty in both countries.

"Doing the ratification [simultaneously] both here and in Moscow, we will send a very important signal to so-called 'third countries' that the START III agreement is not just an agreement between two governments, between two cabinets, between two presidents, but [that] it is supported by the public," Margelov said.

Margelov said synchronized ratification would help the countries avoid a repeat of the tensions that arose when ratification of the previous start treaty was delayed.

The officials said an effort would be made to complete the ratification process in their respective countries by the end of the year.

Under the new START treaty, each country is to shrink its stockpile of nuclear warheads to 1,550 over seven years, down from the current limit of 2,200.

The new treaty replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired in December.

-- Richard Solash