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'US senate to support START treaty'
US Democrats believe they have enough votes in the senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia by year's end.
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2010 16:52 GMT
US vice president Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that there are enough votes to support START ratification [AFP]

Top Democrats in the United States, including Joe Biden, the vice president, have said they believe they have enough support in the US senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Biden also told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the US would "make good" on its commitment to fully develop a missile defense system in Europe.

The Start treaty

 US and Russia limited to 1,550 warheads within seven years from start of treaty

 Limit is 74 per cent lower than the 1991 Start Treaty and 30 per cent lower than the warhead limit of 2002 Moscow Treaty

 Also limits number of deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments to 800

 A separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments

 New measures include on-site inspections, exhibitions and data exchanges

 The Treaty's terms last for 10 years, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement

Source: The White House

Deal priority for Obama

With Congress set to adjourn in the coming days, the senate was poised to resume debate on START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) as early as Sunday, a top priority of Barack Obama, the US president.

The New START treaty, signed in April by Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, would require the former Cold War adversaries to reduce strategic nuclear warheads and bombers.

It would also establish a verification and inspection system to ensure both abide by terms of the agreement.

Republicans opposing the treaty say the pact would limit US efforts to develop systems like those it plans to deploy in Europe to defend against any limited missile attacks from Iran or North Korea.

It was unclear whether the deal had enough Republican support to garner the 67 votes (two-thirds of the senate) needed to pass in the 100-member senate.

Biden expressed optimism that supporters had enough votes to ratify the deal. "I believe we do," he said.

Richard Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the senate leadership, told "Fox News Sunday" that he thought there was enough support. "I think we need to bring this to a vote," Durbin said.

Senator Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and a leading critic of the treaty, told the same show that in the past, the US had "kept missile defense off the table when talking about reducing strategic offensive weapons”.

Asked if he was going to vote against ratification if there was no change to the treaty, Kyl said: "Absolutely. This treaty needs to be fixed and we are not going to have the time to do that" in the few days left in the current session of Congress.

Source:
Agencies
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