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Tactical nuclear arms among issues discussed by Russia, US in Vienna — Pentagon official

On June 22, Russia and the United States held talks on strategic stability and arms control behind closed doors in Vienna

WASHINGTON, June 25. /TASS/. US and Russian envoys raised the issue of tactical nuclear weapons during their arms control talks in Vienna earlier this week, a senior US Department of Defense official told reporters on Wednesday.

Deputy Commander of the US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Lt. Gen. Thomas Bussiere told reporters that participants of the talks discussed Russia’s recently adopted state policy on nuclear deterrence. In his words, the US side sought "a greater, deeper understanding" of the matter.

"We have an opportunity to briefly go through with the Russian General Staff our questions and concerns and clarifying aspects of that document," the US defense official said.

"In conjunction with that was a need and a desire to go forward and also to have a discussion not only on the greater meaning of that doctrine, to alleviate any misunderstandings or misperceptions, but to have a greater understanding and discussion on what we are terming as non-strategic nuclear weapons, also known as tactical nuclear weapons," he went on.

"And so we agreed that <…> that would be a wonderful opportunity to get a greater, deeper understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation on what their doctrine means and how those non-strategic <…> nuclear weapons fit into that," Bussiere added.

On June 22, Russia and the United States held talks on strategic stability and arms control behind closed doors in Vienna. The countries’ delegations were headed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea. The renewal of New START was also on the table of the talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on June 2 a decree on approving the fundamentals of the nuclear deterrence policy. The document signed by the Russian president replaces a similar one approved 10 years ago and valid until 2020. The new strategy confirms that Russia’s state policy in the sphere of nuclear deterrence is of a defensive nature. One of the document’s main principles is compliance with international arms control obligations.