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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia's strategic missiles comply with START-1 treaty - commander

RIA Novosti

25/11/2008 17:27 MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) strictly comply with the provisions of the 1991 strategic arms reductions treaty, and this has been confirmed by numerous U.S. inspections, the force commander said on Tuesday.

The existing START-1 treaty was signed by Moscow and Washington on July 31, 1991, five months before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have since disposed of all their nuclear weapons or transferred them to Russia, and the U.S. and Russia have reduced the number of delivery vehicles to 1,600 each, with no more than 6,000 warheads.

"Russia's Strategic Missile Forces strictly comply with the START-1 treaty and other international agreements, which is proven by numerous inspections conducted by participating countries without any complaint against the Russian side," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov told a news conference in Moscow.

Compliance with the treaty is regularly verified by both sides through on-site inspections and the presentation of mobile ballistic missile launchers.

"In 2008, U.S. experts conducted 17 inspections of SMF launch sites. The U.S. asked Russia to present mobile launchers for monitoring by national technical means of verification," Solovtsov said.

According to the general, the U.S. experts have been granted 346 on-site inspections and 97 presentations of mobile launchers since 1991.

The existing START-1 treaty expires in December 2009, and Russia and the United States plan to hold the next round of talks on replacing it with a new strategic arms reduction agreement by the end of 2008.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that the signing of a new nuclear disarmament deal will only be possible if Washington abandons its plans to place elements of a U.S. missile shield in central Europe.

Russia also insists that any agreement replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty should be a legally binding document and must set lower ceilings not only for the number of nuclear warheads, but also for their delivery vehicles.

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