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“To count weapons, more inspections needed”

Russia and the US prepare a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to replace the one expiring in December. To count the weapons, more inspections than in the past will follow, said anti-nuclear activist Joseph Cirincione.

Moscow is ready to cut its nuclear arsenal to a third of its size, President Dmitry Medvedev told a Serbian newspaper. He noted he hopes a new treaty will be signed before the current one expires.

Both American and Russian officials are expecting the December deadline to be met, according to Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund

“I’ve talked to negotiators in both Russia and the US, and both have said they’ve been told by their presidents to deliver a treaty by December 5,” he said. “I think the deadline will be hit.”

He believes the countries are going to cut the weapons dramatically:

“President Medvedev was talking about a 30 percent cut – I think it’s easy for us to do,” he said. “There are some difficult issues still to be resolved, like how to exactly count the weapons, potential for uploading, putting the weapons back on, but I think they can be worked out with patience and perseverance on both sides.”

It’s been reported earlier that American officials may go over to Russia to check on the arsenal, and then Russian officials may come to the US.

“We’ll have to do that in order to really count the weapons – not just looking at them from satellite photos and seeing how many silos there are,” Cirincione said. “To really count the weapons, you have to have intrusive inspections, more than we had in the past.”