Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Friday said that language in the new START treaty's preamble linking strategic offensive and defensive weapons is legally binding. The White House and Senate Democrats earlier this week reassured Republican lawmakers that the text was non binding. Several Republican Senators, however, were not satisfied with the Democrats' vacuous reassurances and they 'attached a non-binding amendment to to the resolution of ratification technical document to recommit Washington to deploying a missile defense system.
Mr. Lavrov on Friday said that Russia was "absolutely" opposed to any additions to the treaty that rejected a link between missile defense and strategic arms.
"We are absolutely not in agreement with this. This is an arbitrary interpretation of the principles of international law," he told the Russian lower house of parliament.
"The Senate's resolution claims that the treaty does not apply to new kinds of non-nuclear strategic weapons that could be developed in the future. But this is not true," he said.
"There are a few problems," he said. One of the main ones being the assertion contained in this statement that the correlation between strategic offensive and defensive weapons, reflected in the treaty, is not legally binding for the US and Russia because it is stipulated in the preamble. This thesis cannot be defended by lawyers."
Russia's State Duma passed the treaty ratification bill in the first of three readings on Friday, but delayed the other two readings and postponed final ratification of the treaty until January to allow Russian lawmakers additional time to counter the non-binding amendments which Republicans recently inserted into the treaty.