Russian president optimistic on arms deal with US

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2009 6:44 AM

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that nuclear arms control talks with the United States required some give-and-take on both sides and voiced optimism that a deal would be reached soon.

The agreement succeeding the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty has required painstaking work and tough negotiations, Medvedev said. He added that Moscow and Washington had failed to strike a deal by Dec. 5 when the START treaty expired because of the talks' complexity.

"The issue is very difficult," he said in a live interview with the heads of Russian television stations. "It's a treaty that would determine the parameters of the development and reduction of the strategic offensive potentials of the two largest nuclear powers."

Between them, the two countries control 90 to 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

At a summit in Moscow last July, President Barack Obama and Medvedev agreed to cut the number of nuclear warheads on each side to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years, as part of a broad new treaty.

The 500-page START agreement contained a sprawling web of control measures seen as crucial for both nations to keep a wary eye on each other's nuclear stockpiles. Russia now sees them as too intrusive and unnecessary.

Medvedev said Thursday that both Moscow and Washington had to make some concessions in the arms control talks.

Medvedev said that Obama's call for a nuclear-free world is a "beautiful and right goal," but added that movement toward it should be gradual and require other nations also to cut their nuclear arsenals.