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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Putin urges US arms pact backing
US Poseidon sea-launched ballistic missile
The US and Russia are to reduce their nuclear arsenals under the Sort Treaty
Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the Russian parliament to ratify a key nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States.

The Russian leader said that, although the country's continued differences with the US over the Iraqi conflict had created difficulties with Washington, it would be in the interest of Russia to see it ratified.

Russia wants to see this document ratified
Russia President Vladimir Putin

"Our position and that of the United States on the Iraqi problem do not coincide, we have different approaches and that, of course, creates a rather unfavourable background for further work on ratification of this agreement," Mr Putin said.

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, had been scheduled to debate ratification of the treaty last month, but postponed a vote because of the then-impending war in Iraq.

The US Senate has already voted to approve the treaty.

Cold War legacy

US President George W Bush and Mr Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Sort) - also known as the Moscow Treaty - following their summit in Moscow last year.

Arsenals and Treaties
  • 1972: US and USSR sign first arms pact, but weapons arsenals keep growing
  • 1986: Soviet stockpile reaches its height
  • 1987: Deal agreed to eliminate short and medium-range weapons
  • 1987-1993: USSR slashes short and medium-range weapons by half, the US reduces its arsenal by 72%
  • 1993: US signs a treaty to cut strategic long-range warheads with the nuclear states of the former Soviet Union

    Click here for details of nuclear arsenals and treaties

  • It calls for both nations to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds - from around 6,000 warheads at present to under 2,200 - by 2012.

    The Moscow Treaty rendered the previous nuclear arms agreement, Start II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), signed between the two countries in 1993, largely redundant.

    Russia withdrew from Start II after the US unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 ABM treaty to work on its missile defence system last year.

    At the time the Moscow Treaty signing was hailed by the US as finally banishing the legacy of the Cold War.

    However Russia's opposition to the war in Iraq has led to renewed friction between the two countries.

    Q&A: The death of the Cold War
    14 May 02  |  In Depth

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