Dec 242010
arse award

For Obama, The Senate:

Russian lawmakers gave preliminary approval Friday to an arms agreement with the United States, but signaled they would slow progress on the so-called New START treaty to a crawl after it was rushed through Congress earlier this week with some 11th-hour arm-twisting by President Obama.

The treaty cleared an initial hurdle through Moscow’s lower house of parliament, but a senior lawmaker said the treaty won’t get full approval until at least next month.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, said that the treaty would need a total of three required readings before it can be fully ratified. He said full ratification could only happen next month “at the earliest.”

~How SWEET would it be if they did NOT sign it? I mean, we all know with Russia, it is not worth the paper it’s written on anyway. That is why they get the “Arse” award, the Treaty may as well be written on TP ~JP

The assessment seems to put the brakes on the document Obama called a top priority as he whipped up the Republican votes needed to pass it before the end of the lame-duck session.

The treaty, which was ratified Wednesday by the U.S. Senate, would limit each country’s strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would re-establish a system for monitoring and verification, which ended last year with the expiration of a previous arms control deal.

The pact is a centerpiece of Obama’s efforts to “reset” ties with Russia. In a phone conversation on Thursday, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Obama on the Senate’s approval of the treaty, which the two leaders hailed as a historic event for both countries and for U.S.-Russia relations, according to a statement from the White House.

Speaking in a live interview with top Russian TV stations on Friday, Medvedev praised the pact as a “cornerstone of stability both on the European continent and the entire world for the next decades,” adding he was happy to see the Russian parliament moving ahead to ratify it. He credited Obama for securing the pact’s ratification.

“He did a great job, succeeding in his push for the ratification of this very important document, the New START in quite difficult conditions,” Medvedev said. “I told him: Barack, you have a rest now.”

Obama called the treaty a national security imperative {Gag-Vomit} and pressed strongly for its approval before the new Congress, with a Republican majority, assumes power in January. In recent days, he had telephoned a handful of wavering Republicans, eventually locking threatening their votes.

The Obama administration has argued that the United States must show credibility in its improved relations with its former Cold War foe. It is also counting on Russia to help pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

When Obama and Medvedev signed the arms pact in Prague in April, they agreed to conduct ratification simultaneously. But Kosachev and other top Russian lawmakers said they need to study Senate legislation accompanying the treaty before making a decision.

Republicans had tried to kill the treaty by forcing changes in its language that would have sent it back for negotiations with Moscow. Democrats sought to appease some Republican senators by letting them raise these issues in legislation accompanying the treaty that would not directly affect the pact.

On Wednesday, two such amendments, one on missile defense and one on funding for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, passed with support from both parties.

Kosachev said that the Duma will likely counter the Senate legislation with legislation of its own.
“We don’t have the right to leave their interpretations unanswered,” Kosachev told reporters on Friday. “Otherwise it may give additional advantages to our American partners – or, possibly, opponents. We need to balance those advantages.”

He said that the house would meet after the New Year’s vacation that lasts until Jan. 11 to consider the ratification bill in the second reading.

The treaty also needs to be ratified by the upper house, the Federation Council, which like the Duma is controlled by the Kremlin.

Speaking to upper house members on Friday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the legislation accompanying the treaty doesn’t change it.

AP contributed to this report.

One Word– ~ PFFFT!


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