The Strategic Arms Reduction (START-1) Treaty signed between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1991 expires on December 5, 2009. It places a limit of 6,000 strategic or long-range nuclear warheads on each side, and limits the number of delivery vehicles, such as bombers, land-based and submarine-based missiles, to 1,600 each.
"After the Russian aggression in Georgia, it's difficult to get back to business-as-usual, while it's clear that we have business to do. Their [Russian] position effectively is 'we don't believe you and we don't trust you'," said Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher in an interview posted on CQpolitics.com website.
Tauscher, the chairwoman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee, led a U.S. delegation this week to Russia for talks on bilateral cooperation.
She also said that the United States "need to get about the business of negotiating a new treaty; it's a fundamental priority of both the Congress and the new administration."
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.
Washington plans to deploy a missile defense system comprising 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. The U.S. says it needs the shield to deter strikes from "rogue states." Russia insists it would threaten its national security and harm the balance of European security.
After Barack Obama's November election victory, one of his foreign policy advisers said the president-elect was not committed to the missile shield, and would only continue with the project if its effectiveness was proven.
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.