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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Russia and the United States could sign a new nuclear
Russia and the United States could sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty before the end of 2009, a Kremlin source said.

However, ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George Bush in Sochi, a Russian presidential aide said the two parties had substantial disagreements over the treaty.

"The Americans want to reduce everything to extending the Moscow 2002 Treaty, supplementing it with some confidence building measures and measures to enhance transparency. At the same time, attempts are being made to apply limitations only to ‘operationally deployed warheads,'" said Sergei Prikhodko.

He added that in this case warheads in storage would remain outside the framework of the future agreement.

"We have never agreed with such an approach. Therefore, for an agreement to be reached, the U.S. side needs to make a real change [in its position]. We have yet to see such a change," he said.

However, he said one positive development was that the U.S. side "has reaffirmed its readiness to make the future treaty replacing START-1 a legally binding document."

The Kremlin source agreed that the issue of warheads was the main stumbling block.

"We believe that the number of warheads in storage should be clearly determined and reflected in the document - then everything will be transparent and clear. But they [the Americans] are not ready [for that]. We continue working. If we make an extra effort, the document could be finalized by [the end of] 2009," the official said.

In late January, a Republican Senator said that the U.S. administration had changed its stance on the START-1 nuclear arms reduction treaty, and would agree to Russia's demands for a legally binding replacement.

Richard Lugar said: "While we have put the question to rest of whether an agreement would be legally binding, we now must cross the finish line and conclude negotiations to ensure that the START Treaty does not expire."

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on July 31, 1991, five months before the U.S.S.R. collapsed, and remains in force between the U.S., Russia, and three other ex-Soviet states.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have since disposed of all their nuclear weapons or transferred them to Russia, and the U.S. and Russia have reduced the number of delivery vehicles to 1,600 each, with no more than 6,000 warheads. The treaty is set to expire on December 5, 2009.


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