The upper house of Russia’s Parliament today approved the START nuclear arms control treaty at the heart of a new thaw in post-Cold-War relations between Moscow and Washington.

The treaty, signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev back in April, requires both countries to cut their arsenals of nuclear warheads to 1,550 each within seven years, according to a White House memo.

The U.S. Senate approved the treaty in December, and Russia’s lower house, the Duma, approved it Tuesday. Today’s vote by the Federation Council marks the final step in the treaty’s passage by both countries. All 137 lawmakers present for today’s vote approved ratification.

Russian Topol-M intercontinental ballistic misiles drive through Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2010.  Troops from four NATO states marched through Red Square for the first time Sunday as Russia marked victory in World War II with its biggest military parade since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  (Alexander Nemenov, AFP/Getty Images)

Alexander Nemenov, AFP/Getty Images
A Russian Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile drives through Red Square during the Victory Day parade in May. On Tuesday, Russia’s Parliament approved a treaty that requires the U.S. and Russia to cut their nuclear warhead arsenals to 1,550 each.

The new START, which stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, replaces an outdated 1991 agreement, which lapsed in 2009. It requires the U.S. and Russia to eliminate about 30 percent more of their warheads than previous agreements required, and allows for each to inspect the other’s nuclear facilities. There are also legal limits on the number of warheads and missiles that can be deployed on land, submarines and bombers at any given time.

“The alternative is an uncontrolled arms race,” the head of the Federation Council’s defense committee, Viktor Ozerov, told fellow lawmakers before today’s vote, according to Reuters.

After the vote, NATO Secretary-General Anders Rogh Rasmussen issued a statement hailing the treaty as “good news for international security and stability,” Agence France-Presse reported.

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