Senate on track to ratify US-Russia nuclear pact

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a statement Tuesday, urged the Senate to ratify the pact this week. He said the treaty would “provide the necessary flexibility to structure our strategic nuclear forces to best meet national security interests.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, read parts of Mullen’s letter at a closed briefing.

Despite the letter, several conservative Republicans insist the treaty would restrict U.S. options on a missile defense system to protect America and its allies and argue that the accord has insufficient procedures to verify Russia’s adherence.

The treaty specifically would limit each country’s strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would establish a system for monitoring and verification. U.S. weapons inspections ended a year ago with the expiration of a 1991 treaty.

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