Russia, U.S. Tout Advancement in START Negotiations

Russian and U.S. diplomats last week said they were pleased with recent moves toward replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December, the United News of India reported (see GSN, Sept. 9).

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July to cut their nations' respective deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads under the new pact. The two countries are now required under a 2002 deal to hold no more than 2,200 operationally fielded warheads by 2012.

At a meeting Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon discussed the new arms control treaty, the nuclear dispute with Iran and other issues, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement (United News of India/New Kerala, Sept. 13).

In an interview with Interfax, Gordon reaffirmed Washington's refusal to link the arms control talks with a U.S. proposal to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow has characterized the initiative, now under review by the Obama administration, as a threat to its strategic security and threatened to deploy short-range missiles near Poland in response (see related GSN story, today).

"There are some general differences on the relationship between offensive and defensive weapons," Gordon said. "We see this as a treaty on reducing offensive weapons. And defense is our different subject. But as I say I don't think that these problems are insurmountable.

"It is a challenge to get such a complicated treaty with verification measures finalized and legalized in such a short time. But I think that's the real challenge. There is not any fundamental difference on the objective here," he said (Interfax, Sept. 11).

Moscow has reportedly offered to drop a planned sale of S-300 air-defense systems to Iran if Washington cancels the missile shield plan, the London Telegraph reported Friday. Israel has expressed concern that the Russian system could help defend Iranian nuclear sites from potential airstrikes (see related GSN story, today).

Still, Iran might need years to deploy the S-300 defenses, which would have to interface with the Middle Eastern state's current air-defense system, according to some analysts (Adrian Blomfield, London Telegraph, Sept 11).

September 14, 2009
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Russian and U.S. diplomats last week said they were pleased with recent moves toward replacing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December, the United News of India reported (see GSN, Sept. 9).

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