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A senior U.S. official says American and Russian negotiators meeting in Geneva are closing in on a deal for a key nuclear disarmament treaty, and the United States Senate would likely ratify it.
U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher expressed confidence that despite deep partisan divisions in Congress, the Senate would pass the successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, although she gave no timeframe.
"We do have a polarized atmosphere in Washington, but I think that on issues of national security, we have always found that we can find a very broad concensus of Democrats and Republicans [who] will work together to advance those issues. I expect on this issue we will find that same sweet spot," she said.
Tauscher spoke at a conference in Paris gathering former diplomats and arms negotiators and aimed at pushing for global nuclear disarmament. U.S. and Russian negotiators resumed talks in Geneva this week aimed to wrap up a new nuclear disarmament treaty to replace START, which expired in December.
In July, President Barak Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed to reduce their respective numbers of nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 under a new treaty.
In remarks later to VOA, Tauscher predicted the two sides would reach a deal very soon. "We are working hard toward an agreement. It is clear we have the major elements of an agreement in place and now we have to do the hard work of conforming the treaty and some other small negotiations," she said.
Separately, Tauscher cautiously welcomed an announcement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Tehran is ready to send its enriched uranium overseas in exchange for nuclear fuel. Iran previously rejected a U.N.-mediated proposal along those lines. Tauscher said the Obama administration is analyzing the Iranian president's latest remarks.