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Moscow gives Obama's nuclear cuts proposal cool reception
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) June 19, 2013

Russia wants other states to commit to nuclear cuts: Kremlin
Moscow (AFP) June 19, 2013 - Russia wants major new cuts in nuclear stockpiles to be proposed by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to be expanded beyond Russia and the United States and include other nuclear armed states, a top Kremlin aide said.

"The process of cutting down nuclear potential should include other countries with nuclear weapons," Russian diplomats told Washington ahead of Obama's expected speech on the subject in Berlin, foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said.

"The situation now is not like in the 1960s and 1970s when only the United States and the Soviet Union held talks on reducing nuclear arms," Ushakov said at a briefing in Moscow.

Now we need to look more broadly... and increase the circle of participants in possible contacts on this matter."

US officials said Obama will use his speech to propose cutting US and Russian strategic nuclear warheads to around 1,000 each, and also seek reductions in tactical nuclear arms stocks in Europe.

Obama has informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of his planned proposals, Ushakov said, after the two leaders had a frosty meeting at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday.

But Ushakov did not comment on whether Russia would agree to such cuts.

"We need to see what concretely the Americans are proposing. It's too early to comment on this question," he said.

Russia's nuclear arsenal is the world's largest
Moscow (AFP) June 19, 2013 - Russia and the United States together hold about 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, with Russia's total inventory of 8,500 warheads slightly surpassing that of 7,700 in the US, according to the latest available figures.

As of early 2013 Russia's total nuclear inventory is about 8,500. There are 4,500 nuclear warheads in the military stockpile and about 4,000 retired but largely intact warheads that await dismantlement, according to the May/June 2013 report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published in the United States.

A total 1,800 strategic warheads are on missiles and at bomber bases; 700 strategic warheads are in storage; 2,000 non-strategic warheads are in storage.

ICBMs: Russia deploys 326 intercontinental ballistic missiles with about 1,050 warheads. This force is scheduled to change as Russia plans to retire over half of its ICBM force, mainly the 140 SS-25 missiles, also known as Topol, made in the late 1980s.

SLBMs: Russia has a total of 624 submarine launched ballistic warheads and deploys 160 missiles on ten submarines in the Russian fleet.

This year a new Borei-class ballistic missile submarine entered into service in the Russian Navy's Northern fleet, putting the total number of ballistic missile submarines in the Russian navy to ten. They carry a total of 160 missiles with up to 624 warheads.

BOMBERS: The strategic offensive forces also include warheads on 72 Tupolev heavy bombers that could carry an estimated 810 weapons. However this figure has not been officially updated since 2009.

Russia's tactical nuclear force has approximately 2,000 warheads for delivery by air, navy and other defensive forces, including about 730 air-to-surface missiles and bombs, and ABM systems around Moscow. The total number of the so-called nonstrategic nuclear weapons at Russia's disposal has not been officially updated since 2005.

The Russian defence ministry does not disclose figures of its nuclear stock, but informs Washington as part of the two countries' informational exchange. The information is then published by US-based organisations.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates the total number of nuclear warheads in the world to be 17,300. France is the third biggest nuclear power with 300 warheads, followed by China with 250 and the United Kingdom with 225.

Russian officials on Wednesday reacted coldly to the call by President Barack Obama to jointly reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles by a third, saying the United States should address Moscow's concerns over missile defence first.

"How can we take seriously this idea about cuts in strategic nuclear potential while the United States is developing its capabilities" to intercept Russia's weapons, deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin asked.

"Clearly, (Russia's) political leadership cannot take these assurances seriously," said Rogozin, who oversees the defence sector and the nuclear industry, according to the state-owned Itar-TASS news agency.

"The offence arms race leads to a defence arms race and vice versa," he said, speaking after a government meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg that focused on Russia's defence sector.

His remarks followed the call on Russia by the US President in Germany to reduce strategic nuclear weapon stockpiles by up to a third, taking them to the 1,000 weapon mark.

Although Putin did not react directly to Obama's proposal, he said at the meeting that Russia would not let its nuclear deterrent be undermined.

He said that Russia is faced with a situation in which countries are developing offensive capabilities by building up mid-range missiles and sophisticated non-nuclear weapons, and while the United States has worked to reconfigure its missile shield, the project is still going ahead.

"We cannot allow the balance of the system of strategic deterrence to be disturbed or the effectiveness of our nuclear force to be decreased," Putin said.

Russian diplomats have additionally told Washington ahead of Obama's speech that cuts should include other nuclear armed states, not just Russia and the United States, according to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov.

"The situation now is not like in the 1960s and 1970s when only the United States and the Soviet Union held talks on reducing nuclear arms," Ushakov said at a briefing in Moscow.

"Now we need to look more broadly... and increase the circle of participants in possible contacts on this matter."

Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov, who heads the foreign policy committee of the Duma or lower house of parliament, further said it would be "impossible" to decrease strategic offensive weapons as long as the missile shield issue remains a concern.

"As long as this issue is not resolved, it is impossible to agree to a decrease in strategic weapons, and so far no resolution is in the picture," he said.

Further cuts are "something for a very long-term perspective," he told the Interfax news agency.

The previous ground-breaking cut was agreed by United States and Russia in 2010 as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that Obama signed together with then president Dmitry Medvedev.

The treaty restricts the former Cold War foes to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads each. It was one of the greatest legacies of Medvedev and Obama before Putin returned to the Kremlin last year for a third term.

Russia and the United States jointly control 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, with Russia's total inventory numbering 8,500 warheads at last count.

Disagreements over the missile shield over Europe have plagued Russia-US relations for years. Moscow sees it as directly undermining its own capabilities despite Washington's assurances that the system focuses on regional threats such as Iran and North Korea.


Related Links
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Obama urges Russia to cut nuclear arms by up to third
Berlin (AFP) June 19, 2013
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday called on Russia to agree strategic nuclear weapons cuts of up to a third and to also rein in strategic atomic arms, but got the cold shoulder from Moscow. In a major speech in Berlin, Obama also committed to attend a Nuclear Security summit, designed to deprive terror groups of nuclear materials, in The Hague next year and to hold his own in his last y ... read more

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