Russia, NATO, the United Nations, and Japan are among those who have welcomed the vote in the U.S. Senate
ratifying a landmark nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia.
On December 22, senators voted 71-26 in favor of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) -- easily clearing the two-thirds majority needed to approve the pact.
The treaty, signed by presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in April, requires the United States and Russia to cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads by about 30 percent, to no more than 1,550 each within seven years.
Obama said after the ratification that the pact sends a "powerful signal' to the world.
"This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades, and it will make us safer and reduce our nuclear arsenals, along with Russia," Obama said. "With this treaty, our inspectors will also be back on the ground at Russian nuclear bases, so we will be able to 'trust but verify' (Russia's adherence to treaty obligations)."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the ratification, but said Moscow will still need time to study the U.S. documents before putting the treaty to a vote in the State Duma lower house of parliament.
Lavrov was also quoted by Interfax news agency as saying the treaty strengthens both Russian and U.S. security and will have a "positive effect" on international stability.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called the U.S. ratification a "significant contribution to Euro-Atlantic security," while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the vote sends a "clear message" in support of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
Japan, the only nation to have suffered a nuclear strike when it was attacked by the U.S. at the end of World War II, said the move marked "important progress" in disarmament efforts by Washington and Moscow.
compiled from agency reports