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U.S. Not Prepared for Talks on Cutting Nonstrategic Nuclear Arms

The United States is not yet prepared to join Russia in talks on potential nonstrategic nuclear-weapon cuts, acting U.S. Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said on Friday (see GSN, March 27).

"We are not ready so far to negotiate (that issue) but we are ready for a serious discussion of what it should look like," Gottemoeller said in remarks reported by the Xinhua News Agency.

The United States is broadly believed to maintain approximately 200 B-61 gravity bombs at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey as a holdover from the Cold War (see GSN, Feb. 3). The number of Russian tactical weapons is estimated to be far larger.

Abolishing nuclear weapons globally would require sustained effort, and the circumstances do not presently exist for achieving the goal, Gottemoeller said in Moscow.

The elimination of all atomic armaments "will definitely not happen in my lifetime," she added (Xinhua News Agency, March 30).

Still, a U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty that took effect last year "was just the beginning," she said in prepared remarks.

The New START pact, which entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011, requires the two nations by 2018 to each reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by this year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded strategic warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 systems permitted in reserve. The treaty calls for the nations to regularly share quantities, siting and schematics of armament equipment and sites

"President Obama made it clear in his now-famous Prague Speech that the United States is committed to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," Gottemoeller said. "He reiterated his vision in Seoul earlier this week. In his remarks at the Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama said that he 'knew that this goal would not be reached quickly, perhaps not in (his) lifetime, but (he) knew we had to begin, with concrete steps'" (see GSN, March 28; U.S. State Department release, March 30).

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