UPDATE: 2/5/11 New START enters into force during an international conference in Munich, Germany. UPDATE: 2/2/11 President Obama signed the New START treaty with Russia on February 2.
On December 22nd, after a long, hard fight, the United States Senate gave its advice and consent to New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The final vote was 71-26 in favor of ratification.
Then the treaty had to go through additional steps before it entered into force.
Although the Russians waited until after the United States Senate voted, getting this treaty through both houses of their Parliament was just a bit easier, which may have something to do with a somewhat less robust democracy in that country.
On December 24th, the Duma, which is Russia’s lower house, gave its preliminary approval of the treaty 350-58.
In the last week of January, both houses of the Russian Parliament voted for New START. On January 25th, the Duma voted 350-56 in favor, far surpassing the 226 votes needed for it to pass. Then on January 26th, the Federation Council, which is the upper house of the Parliament, gave its final approval of New START, with a unanimous vote of 137-0.
The United States Congress rarely votes unanimously for anything.
The Russians played monkey see, monkey do. After the Senate added all sorts of provisions to the resolution of ratification to express various concerns – all non-binding on Russia, the Duma added its own conditions, again, not binding on the United Sates.
President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New START instruments of ratification just two days later, announcing that New START will enter into force on February 5th during an official ceremony in Munich at which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will exchange their respective documents.
First, however, President Obama has to sign the instruments of ratification; if the documents are to be exchanged this weekend, it is expected that President Obama will add his signature this week. And even before that, the President has to submit a multitude of reports to Congress on aspects of the treaty.
If nothing else, it will keep the printers and the New START wonks busy.
Next in the queue: The initial exchange of data on missiles, launchers, heavy bombers, and warheads subject to the treaty is required 45 days after the treaty enters into force. The right to conduct on-site inspections begins 60 days after entry into force (i.e. sometime in April).