On Wednesday, May 14th, the State Duma (the lower chamber of the parliament) will consider the question of ratifying the Russian-U.S. Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SOR).
In the draft law on ratification of the Treaty, submitted to the State Duma by president Vladimir Putin it is stressed that the Treaty is being implemented "on the basis of reduction of the Russian Federation's strategic offensive arms, which fall under the effect of the SOR Treaty in the context of preserving them in service within the maximally possible period of exploitation; on the basis of ensuring safe conditions of exploitation, storage, elimination and utilisation of the strategic offensive arms of the Russian Federation." The day before Vladimir Putin called the Russian-U.S. Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SOR) "a most important document in the sphere of strategic stability".
The SOR Treaty between the Russian Federation and the USA was signed by Vladimir Putin and George Bush in Moscow on May 24th, 2002 in the course of the Russian-U.S. summit. The Treaty provides for reduction by each sides of its strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,220, which is by approximately 66.7 % less than the limit set by the START-1 Treaty, which is now in force.
In essence, the SOR Treaty is the first disarmament document on reduction of the nuclear potentials of Russia and the USA with the George Bush administration. On June 20, 2002 George Bush sent the text of the SOR Treaty to the U.S. Senate, and the Senate of the U.S. Congress unanimously ratified the Treaty on March 6, 2003.
The State Duma initially planned to raise the question of ratification on March 21, 2003 but postponed it to a later date in connection with the U.S.-British operation in Iraq.
The consideration of the question of ratification of the Treaty by the State Duma coincided with the Moscow visit of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. In this context, completion of the process of the ratification of the Moscow SOR Treaty by the State Duma of the Russian Federation remains a key question of Russian-U.S. relations.
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