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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
New kind of arms treaty
Russian nuclear missile silo
This treaty may be much simpler than previous ones
test hello test
By Jonathan Marcus
BBC defence correspondent
line

This is effectively the first strategic arms reduction agreement of the post-Cold War era.

Unlike earlier treaties reached between the United States and the then Soviet Union, this one has not taken negotiators years to draw up.

Indeed, the document that President George W Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to sign in some 10 days' time may be relatively brief.


Neither side needed such a huge nuclear arsenal in the wake of the Cold War, but many questions remain as to how exactly this new agreement is to be verified

The cuts in themselves are massive, slashing each side's arsenal by up to two thirds, giving each country something between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads apiece.

Russia had insisted that the agreement should be legally binding, just like a full-scale treaty.

The Americans appear to have given ground here but they have not accepted Russia's view that all the warheads removed from service should be destroyed.

Clearly some sort of deal has been agreed under which some warheads will be dismantled and others will simply be stored.

This agreement underscores the new mood of co-operation between Washington and Moscow.

Neither side needed such a huge nuclear arsenal in the wake of the Cold War, but many questions remain as to how exactly this new agreement is to be verified and how redundant nuclear warheads - or the nuclear materials removed from them - are to be safely and securely stored.

The US announcement comes on the eve of a meeting between the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, and his Nato counterparts. This looks set to agree on a new decision-making forum in which Russia and the 19 members of the Atlantic alliance will sit down and elaborate joint policies on a number of key security issues.

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