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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Russia's Lavrov Says US Slowing Progress on Arms Pact

VOA News 17 December 2009

Russia's top diplomat is accusing the United States of holding up progress on a new nuclear arms treaty, saying he does not expect the presidents of Russia and the United States to sign a new accord when they meet Friday in Copenhagen.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Thursday for Washington to accept deeper reductions to its nuclear arsenal and less intrusive verification measures than those in the current treaty.

The two governments have been negotiating to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START. Earlier this year, President Obama and his counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, said they wanted to sign a new accord at the global warming summit Friday in the Danish capital.

However, Moscow has since signaled it no longer wants U.S. inspectors monitoring its main missile plant, while Washington says it wants to continue existing transparency and verification measures.

Earlier this week, a U.S. State Department official, spokesman P.J. Crowley, said the two sides were "getting very close."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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