Medvedev signs law ratifying Russia-US arms pact

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The Independent Online

President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law completing Russia's ratification of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States and said the landmark pact would soon enter into force.

"Today I signed the ratification document relating to the strategic offensive weapons treaty," Medvedev told his presidential Security Council, according to Russian news agencies.

New START, signed by Medvedev and President Barack Obama last April after a year of tough negotiations, is the first Russian-US nuclear arms pact in almost a decade and a crucial element in a "reset" that has improved long-strained.

The treaty will lower the limits on the number of deployed strategic warheads and delivery systems the former Cold War foes can maintain and establish verification rules enabling them to keep tabs on each other's nuclear arsenals.

The US Senate approved ratification last month in a victory for Obama, and Russia's Kremlin-controlled parliament gave its final approval in a unanimous upper house vote on Tuesday.

Medvedev said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would likely exchange documents putting the treaty into force at an upcoming meeting.

That suggested it could take place at a security conference being held in Munich, Germany on 4th-6th February.