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On Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller ended a two-day visit to Moscow. She came to discuss two key issues – a possibility for further cuts in nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia and an agreement on cooperation that may replace the Nunn-Lugar program.
Ahead of the visit Rose Gottemoeller said she was heading for Moscow to negotiate a new agreement on the reduction of nuclear arsenals, that will include all categories of arms – strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed, the Kommersant daily writes. If Moscow refuses to consider that idea, the White House may secure support of two thirds of senators and begin cuts unilaterally.
Moscow saw Washington’s offer skeptically. A source of the Kommersant in the General Staff of the Russian Federation said the US initiative did not “meet the realities of the present day,” calling the idea of unilateral disarmament “a political trick”. “Taking this occasion they want us to soften our stance on the missile defense issue,” the interlocutor believes. However, “missile defense is a fundamental issue for us,” he said.
Russia will not agree to further cut arsenals without agreements in that sphere, a source from the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed.
According to him, before discussing further cuts in arsenals, Moscow believes it is necessary to meet the START treaty requirements. “And speaking about a package agreement, we would like to also see in it non-nuclear strategic arms. However Washington is not ready for that,” the source explained. “The problem of misbalance (in favor of the United States) on conventional weapons stays in place. In general, this is obviously not a matter of the near future,” he stressed.
Talks were more productive on the second issue - an agreement aimed to replace the Nunn-Lugar program, within the framework of which Russia’s excess nuclear arsenals and chemical weapons have been liquidated starting from the early 1990s with US means. The Russian authorities decided not to extend the program whose term expires in June, announcing that Russia does not need subsidies any longer. During the talks with Rose Gottemoeller Russia’s representatives made public the terms on which Moscow could sign a new agreement on that with Washington.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Kommersant on Thursday that Moscow “was pleased with the consultations” on that issue. “We are advancing. I would not say that we have arrived at some solutions or breakthroughs. However, despite the differences the dialogue continues,” he noted.