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    U.S., Russia enter endgame stage in arms reduction talks

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    The United States and Russia have agreed on the core of a new strategic arms reduction deal to replace the expired START 1 treaty and need only a few final touches to conclude the talks.

    The United States and Russia have agreed on the core of a new strategic arms reduction deal to replace the expired START 1 treaty and need only a few final touches to conclude the talks, the U.S. State Department said.

    Moscow and Washington have been in intensive negotiations since July, when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama agreed the new treaty's outline, which included cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

    "The vast majority of the text is already agreed on, but we do have some of these final issues that we need to work out," Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, told a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

    He said the U.S. and the Russian negotiating teams were working hard to finish the preparation of the draft document by the end of the year.

    "For our part, of course, our real priority here is to get a good treaty that meets our national security interests. We want to have more predictability and stability in our nuclear relationship, and we also want provisions in this accord that ensure effective verification of the treaty's obligations," Kelly said.

    "And I'll just stress again the important thing is not meeting a deadline, necessarily. The important thing is getting a good treaty," the diplomat added.

    The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), the basis for Russian-U.S. strategic nuclear disarmament, expired on December 5 but both sides vowed to continue arms reduction cooperation after the expiry until a new treaty is concluded.

    START I committed the parties to reducing their nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. In 2002, a follow-up strategic arms reduction agreement was concluded in Moscow. The document, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012.

    Russia insists that the monitoring of missile manufacturing facilities should not be included in a new strategic arms reduction deal, while Washington wants to continue monitoring the production of all Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and to establish closer monitoring of Russia's mobile Topol-M systems.

     

    WASHINGTON, December 10 (RIA Novosti)

     

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