Russian Senator visits Omaha during international business tour

Omaha, NE – Nebraska's senior U.S. Senator and a member of Russia's Federation Council both believe a new nuclear arms treaty will be ratified by their legislatures.

Russian Senator Mikhail Margelov and Senator Ben Nelson discussed the so-called START treaty Sunday in Omaha. Margelov is in Nebraska for a U.S.-Russia Business Council tour of the Midwest. The treaty calls for a significant reduction in the number of warheads and missile launchers within seven years.

Margelov believes the treaty will be approved by Russia's parliament. "My feeling is it will be done in autumn. What month I'm not ready to such because much depends still on the vote in the Duma. Of course, the recent opposition in the Russian parliament by the Communist faction, the liberal Democrat faction really have serious arguments against the document. But I think we will successfully pass through that issue."

Senator Nelson says the Armed Services Strategic Arms Subcommittee, which he's chairman of, has held hearings on the treaty and its key points. "What level do we need to be armed and how many warheads and how many delivery systems do we really need and how do we verify what the counterpart, Russia, really has, and how do we establish sufficient numbers for mutual self-destruction without going beyond that, and what would it take to keep our stockpiles current and operational."

Once approved, the START treaty would be in effect for ten years. Both countries could extend it an additional five years past that date.