The U.S. Senate cleared the New START treaty Wednesday in a 71-to-26 vote.
The U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty, one of President Barack Obama’s top priorities for the lame-duck Congress, will reduce the number of U.S. and Russian missiles by a third and implement on-site inspections of nuclear weapons facilities after a one-year suspension.
The agreement was signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 last spring.
Vice President Joe Biden acted as Senate president during the final vote on the treaty, which will last 10 years.
“This is one of those rare times in the United States Senate where we have it within our power to safeguard or endanger humankind,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, Foreign Relations Committee chairman and one of the floor debate managers, said prior to the ratification vote.
56 Democratic senators and two independents voted in support of the treaty.
13 Republicans also joined in voting to approve the treaty, including: Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Robert Bennett of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, George Voinovich of Ohio, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
President Obama said Wednesday that the arms control agreement will help the U.S. stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
The international community has also praised the Senate’s ruling. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the treaty “a firm and clear message in support of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation,” AP reported.