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22 Dec, 2009 18:31

Unprecedented reductions in new START - Lavrov

A new strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia will be a radically different agreement to the previous one, according to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The new Russian-American treaty will provide radical and unprecedented arms cuts," Lavrov said. "The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will be a new deal of equality where both sides will have the same levels of control. The document will link reduction of strategic arms with non-nuclear armaments. The work on this strategic arms reduction treaty is almost completed, which is why we look forward to it with optimism."

The negotiations over the document appeared to have slowed down recently, as the deadline for a new agreement has been pushed back to early next year to replace the existing deal which expired this month.

For weeks, negotiating teams from the two countries have been trying to hammer out the details of a new deal. The new treaty is expected to reduce nuclear warheads to just over a thousand on each side – a significant cut from the deal agreed in 1991.

Head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said that other countries should follow suit and join in the arms reduction campaign.

“We are still rather far from the so-called ‘global zero’ level and much is to be done after this treaty comes into force. In any case, this is a significant reduction and the further steps in this direction will definitely demand the participation of other nuclear powers like China, like the United Kingdom, like France, maybe others, because the United States and Russia have more or less exhausted their capacity to proceed with reduction of strategic armament on a unilateral or bilateral level,” he said.

Experts' opinion

Independent political analyst Vladimir Kozin asserts that the soon-to-be-signed START 2 will really be exceptional.

“If we compare it intentionally with START 1 signed in 1991, we will see that in the new treaty delivery vehicles will be reduced tenfold," Kozin told RT. "And in terms of operational deployed strategic warheads, it will be seven times less than START 1. So definitely, it’s a huge reduction. But nevertheless, we have to go further and involve the other de facto and de iure nuclear states to join our talks, our community, all together, some time in the future, heading to a nuclear-free world.”

“The statements of this summer indicated that both [Russia and the US] are very committed to [the START treaty]. This is a very important treaty for them both. Considering that both countries have 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, it is very important for both countries to symbolically say: Look, we are ready to make these reductions and we have gone through with them – the will is there,” journalist Anna Arutyunyan from the newspaper Moscow News told RT.

Aleksandr Pikayev, political analyst from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, believes the agreement will help Iran and North Korea have confidence in the non-proliferation movement.

He claimed: “Non-nuclear powers, parties of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Iran – they accuse nuclear powers that they are hesitating to have real nuclear disarmament and therefore the new US-Russian agreement, which would require considerable nuclear reductions, could undermine such arguments and would put Iranians, and indirectly North Koreans, on the defensive. We might demonstrate it when we Russians and the US are sincerely moving towards nuclear disarmament. And the Iranians create some problems for the International Nuclear Proliferation regime. And therefore you need to be more receptive to the position of the international community.”

Read also: US strongly determined to keep control over Russian nuclear missiles