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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, U.S. set to sign new arms reduction treaty in mid-Jan

RIA Novosti

12:42 18/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the United States could sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty in a month's time, a Russian diplomat said on Friday.

"The negotiating teams will be in Geneva until the end of the week and will then return home," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

He said Washington has suggested signing the replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in mid-January. The START I treaty, which led to considerable cuts in the two countries' nuclear arsenals, expired on December 5.

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama will meet on the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate summit on Friday to discuss the delayed pact, but a signing is not expected, officials in Washington and Moscow said.

The leaders pledged at their first meeting in April to replace the treaty as part of broader efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years. American and Russian officials have been holding intense talks with the initial aim of signing the new accord before the end of this year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that the countries "have already agreed on a lot of issues of fundamental importance," but Moscow has "noticed a slowdown in U.S. negotiators' efforts." But the countries "are moving toward our goal," he said.

The treaty's outline, agreed by the presidents in the summer, included cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000. Verification and control arrangements were reported to be a stumbling bloc in the negotiations.

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