Russia, U.S. seek 'general nuclear disarmament'
MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the United States have agreed that all nuclear powers should subsequently join the process of strategic arms reduction, a top Russian military official said on Monday.
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces, said the agreement had been reached in the course of Russian-U.S. talks on the new strategic arms reduction treaty that was signed on April 8.
"We realize that it would be wrong if two sides cut their arms while others keep arming themselves. We are planning to get all countries possessing nuclear weapons involved in the negotiating process," he said.
The new strategic arms pact stipulates that the number of nuclear warheads is to be reduced to 1,550 on each side over seven years, while the number of delivery vehicles, both deployed and non-deployed, must not exceed 800.
Makarov said an extensive effort would be mounted to encourage all "nuclear club" members to join the process.
"There is a striving - and this is something that the U.S. president also said - to reach an absolute [nuclear] 'zero', but I believe that this is a prospect that will require very intensive and effective work by all countries that have nuclear weapons," he said.
The new pact addresses the return capability ("reconversion") of missile launch facilities and heavy bombers, which would lay the legal groundwork for the subsequent elimination of some types of delivery vehicles.
The new pact establishes a simplified verification mechanism, which would almost halve verification costs. Russia has in the past bridled at some of the more intrusive elements of the START 1 treaty, which expired on December 5, 2009.
The verification regime includes on-site inspections, data exchanges and notifications.
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