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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S.-Russia nuclear deal not expected this year - U.S. official

RIA Novosti

09:25 17/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) - The United States does not expect a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia to be signed before the end of the year, Russian and foreign media reported on Thursday citing a State Department official.

Washington said on Tuesday the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia would not be signed on the sidelines of a climate summit in Copenhagen this week.

Officials in Washington and Moscow said earlier this month they were wrapping up talks on the new deal to replace the START 1 treaty that expired on December 5. Media reports suggested it could be signed in the Danish capital.

But a State Department official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday, said the deal was unlikely to be signed in the next two weeks.

He said U.S. officials "expect that the START talks are powering right through the weekend, they're going to go right up to Christmas (then) breaking for the holidays and coming back in January."

He said U.S. President Barack Obama may have a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the UN climate summit, but that "nothing will happen in Copenhagen."

"We're not expecting a deal before the end of the year," he added.

Medvedev and Obama announced at their first meeting in April that the two countries would replace the START 1 treaty as part of their efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.

The treaty's outline agreed by the presidents included cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

Russia's military said earlier the talks had thrown up differences on inspection and verification procedures.

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