Progress Made in Nuclear Treaty Talks, U.S. Says

(Jul. 24) -A U.S. Minuteman 3 ICBM on display at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The United States said today it had made "progress" in talks this week with Russia toward a new nuclear arms reduction treaty (U.S. Air Force photo).
(Jul. 24) -A U.S. Minuteman 3 ICBM on display at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The United States said today it had made "progress" in talks this week with Russia toward a new nuclear arms reduction treaty (U.S. Air Force photo).

The United States today said it had made "progress" in talks on a coordinated nuclear-arsenal reduction with Russia, Reuters reported (see GSN, July 13).

Diplomats from the former Cold War adversaries met for two days this week in Geneva to discuss a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 5.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this month pledged to cut their nations' respective deployed nuclear arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads. The two countries are now required under a 2002 pact to hold no more than 2,200 operationally fielded warheads by 2012.

This week's meeting wrapped up yesterday, a day earlier than anticipated.

"Positive progress continues to be made in the discussions," said Richard Wilbur, a spokesman for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva.

Moscow said it will have a statement on the talks soon (Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, July 24).

In Washington, senators yesterday voted to block funds for rolling back the nation's nuclear arsenal under any arms control agreement that includes mandatory curbs on U.S. missile defenses, the Associated Press reported.

Russia recently indicated it would rule out significant nuclear arsenal reductions in a START successor unless the Obama administration abandoned its predecessor's plan to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. President Barack Obama has not yet formalized his stance on the proposed missile shield, which is ostensibly intended to counter an long-range missile threat from Iran.

Under an amendment inserted in the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill, Obama would be required to certify that a new U.S.-Russian treaty includes adequate mechanisms for verifying arms reductions and no limits on U.S. deployments of missile defenses, "space capabilities" or sophisticated conventional weaponry.

In addition, the president would have to certify that his fiscal 2011 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration "sufficiently" funds nuclear stockpile maintenance programs as well as efforts to "modernize and refurbish the nuclear weapons complex."

"We need to start a process of modernizing our nuclear weapons program and stockpile," said Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who proposed the amendment.

The Senate also approved a separate amendment, introduced by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), that suggests the body would only support a revised European missile defense configuration if it were deemed as effective in safeguarding Europe and the United States as the proposed system (Jim Abrams, Associated Press/Google News, July 23).

July 24, 2009
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The United States today said it had made "progress" in talks on a coordinated nuclear-arsenal reduction with Russia, Reuters reported (see GSN, July 13).