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    No evidence of Russian cheating on START I - State Department

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    The United States does not believe Russia cheated on its obligations under the 1991 strategic arms reduction treaty, a State Department official said.

    The United States does not believe Russia cheated on its obligations under the 1991 strategic arms reduction treaty, a State Department official said.

    Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for the verification, compliance and implementation and chief negotiator on the new START treaty, said the State Department is confident that Russia will abide by the new treaty when it is ratified.

    Her comments came in response to U.S. media speculation on a State Department report on treaty compliance over the past five years that allegedly pointed to disputes between the United States and Russia over compliance and verification mechanisms.

    A number of media outlets said this spelt danger for the new START treaty that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on next week.

    Gottemoeller said nothing in the report accuses Russia of cheating or undermines the Obama administration's confidence that the new treaty can be enforced.

    "Cheating implies intent to undermine a treaty. There's no history of cheating on the central obligations of START; there's a history of abiding by the treaty," Gottemoeller said.

    "Generally the record for the major conventions is a good one. With regard to START, the Russians have been very serious and it has been a success."

    The new START treaty was signed on April 8 in Prague, replacing the START 1 treaty that expired in December 2009. The new pact obligates both nations to cap their fielded strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads, while the number of deployed and non-deployed delivery vehicles must not exceed 800 on either side.

    The Russian and U.S. presidents have agreed that the ratification processes should be simultaneous.

    The State Department report, entitled Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, says Moscow had remained within the "central limits" of the now-defunct 1991 START pact.

    "Notwithstanding the overall success of START implementation, a number of long-standing compliance issues" persisted until the treaty's expiration last December, according to the document.

    Gottemoeller told Foreign Policy magazine the report neither indicates Moscow was "cheating" under the 1991 pact nor places in question the U.S.'s ability to monitor Russian compliance with its successor.

    As for questions raised in the report over Russia's compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said they were not specifically relevant to the nuclear treaties, but Moscow is working with implementing organizations for those pacts to address concerns.

    "It remains unclear," the State Department said, "whether Russia has fulfilled its BWC obligations."

    One critic of New START argued it could hamper the U.S. ability to improve its missile defense system.

    Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) wrote in the National Review that "the treaty favors Russia when it comes to tactical nuclear weapons, which are developed for use on the battlefield."

    "It's no secret that the Russians do not want the United States or her allies to be protected by missile defense, and believe that New START forbids further development of missile defense," he said.

     

    WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti)

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