MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia believes that a new strategic arms reduction deal with the U.S. should be signed before cuts in tactical nuclear weapons are discussed, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
"As to tactical nuclear weapons, we share the view expressed by [U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs] [Alexander] Vershbow that the discussion of this issue is premature," Andrei Nesterenko said.
"It would be more logical to finish work on a new agreement to replace the START treaty first," the diplomat said.
The next round of arms reduction talks between Russia and the U.S. is due later this month when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Russia.
President Dmitry Medvedev earlier said a strategic arms reduction treaty should be ready by December.
According to a report published by the U.S. State Department in April, as of January 1 Russia had 3,909 nuclear warheads and 814 delivery vehicles, including ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers. The same report said the United States had 5,576 warheads and 1,198 delivery vehicles.
The Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START 1), signed in 1991, makes it incumbent on Russia and the United States to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. The treaty expires on December 5 this year.