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Senate Ratifies START

By a 71-26 vote, the Senate just ratified the New START arms reduction agreement with Russia.

Treaties are ratified when they receive "aye" votes from two-thirds of the senators who are present.

The pact, as journalist Alan Greenblatt wrote earlier today for NPR.org:

"Will limit the number of delivery vehicles and launchers the U.S. and Russia can deploy. Following its ratification by the Russian Duma, which is expected to take place early next year, each country will have seven years to bring down the total number of strategic weapons it has in place to 1,550.

"That's down from current caps of 1,700 to 2,200 apiece. And, more important, the treaty will reopen the doors to inspectors checking on matters within the other nation."

But, as Alan also reported, "the next nuclear arms treaty will be even harder ... (because) any further talks between the two countries will take up issues that are more complicated and difficult to resolve than those addressed by New START, including tactical nuclear weapons and direct limits on U.S. missile defense ambitions."

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