US Senate ratifies nuclear pact with Russia

The US Senate has ratified a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, handing president Barack Obama a signal diplomatic and political victory after a months-long battle.

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The US Senate ratified a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, handing President Barack Obama a signal diplomatic and political victory after a months-long battle.

Lawmakers voted 71-26 in favor of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), easily clearing the two-thirds majority needed to approve the pact, which Mr Obama had made a lynchpin of efforts to "reset" relations with Moscow.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the move but said Moscow needed time to "study" the US documents before doing the same, noting the text had been amended since its initial draft.

Prior to approving the treaty, lawmakers attached non-binding amendments to the resolution of ratification technical document to recommit Washington to deploying a missile defense system, modernizing its nuclear arsenal, and seek new talks with Russia on curbing tactical nuclear weapons.

The ratification was a signal of "efforts to ensure the dynamic development of bilateral relations" between the former Cold War foes, Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Mr Obama savored Senate approval of the START treaty shortly after signing a historic law to enable gays to serve openly in the US military for the first time in history, another unlikely triumph in the waning days of his Democratic allies' control over the polarized Congress.