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Proposed U.S. Nuclear Arms Curbs Not "Unilateral": Panetta

Plans presented to President Obama for possibly decreasing the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile were each formulated with an eye toward potential corresponding moves by Russia, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday (see GSN, March 26).

"The president is always interested in trying to see what we can do to reduce our nuclear arsenal," Agence France-Presse quoted Panetta as saying.

"We've gone through a nuclear review and presented options to him, but let me be very clear that those options are in no way unilateral (see GSN, Feb. 15). They're all based on potential bilateral negotiations with the Russians," the Pentagon chief said.

The New START treaty requires both nations by 2018 to reduce their stocks of fielded strategic nuclear systems to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems.

Obama on Monday said the United States would pursue further nuclear arsenal reductions in exchange for possible similar stockpile cuts by Russia. Previous reporting indicated the Defense Department had developed three proposals that would respectively lower the number of nuclear warheads the United States maintains on delivery vehicles to ranges between 1,000 and 1,100,  700 and 800, or 300 and 400 (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, March 27).

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