MOSCOW — Russia's lower house of parliament gave preliminary approval Friday to a U.S.-Russian arms treaty, but decided to delay the final vote until next month.
The Kremlin-controlled State Duma voted 350-58 to approve the New START treaty in the first of three readings. The legislators said they would proceed further after returning from the New Year's vacation that lasts until Jan. 11.
The Russian parliament normally ratifies international treaties in a single vote, but this time legislators said they needed extra time to study legislation accompanying the treaty that was passed by the U.S. Senate.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, said full ratification could happen next month "at the earliest," as the Russian legislators would need to formulate their response to the Senate legislation in a ratification bill.
At the same time, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear the bill wouldn't change the text of the treaty, just as the Senate's legislation didn't affect it. A quick initial approval of the ratification bill signaled a strong Kremlin support for the document.
The New START treaty, which was ratified Wednesday by the U.S. Senate, would limit each country's strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would re-establish a system for monitoring and verification, which ended last year with the expiration of a previous arms control deal.