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White House Contradicts Russian Duma Official on Linkage Between Missile Defense and START

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An official of the lower house of the Duma says that as it ratifies the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, the Russian parliament will reaffirm that the treaty limits U.S. plans for missile defense, contrary to the stated position of U.S. officials.

Asked for comment, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor tells ABC News, "The President sent a letter to the Senate on Dec. 18 that said: ‘The New Start Treaty places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs.' That remains the case."

The preamble to the treaty recognizes "the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties..."

Throughout the START debate in the Senate, Republican lawmakers voiced concern that recognizing the "interrelationship" between offensive and defensive weapons could be seen as a way to limit U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

And apparently Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, agrees.

Earlier Monday, the Voice of Russia quoted Kosachev saying that "during the ratification of START in the U.S. Congress the American lawmakers noted that the link between strategic offensive armed forces and antimissile defense systems is not juridically binding for the parties. They referred to the fact that this link was fixed only in the preamble of the document. Such an approach can be regarded as the U.S.' attempt to find an option to build up its strategic potential and the Russian lawmakers cannot agree with this."

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