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Details Hamper Negotiators: Russia and the United States Will Return to START in the Coming Year

Details Hamper Negotiators: Russia and the United States Will Return to START in the Coming Year

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Published by Chuck Thornton

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Published by: Chuck Thornton on Dec 23, 2009
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12/23/2009

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Details Hamper Negotiators: Russia and the United States Will Return to START inthe Coming Yearby Petr Iskenderov and Boris KaymakovVremya Novostey, 21 Dec 09, MoscowRussian and US presidents Dmitriy Medvedev and Barack Obama are postponing thesigning of a new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic OffensiveArms [START] until 2010. This became clear after the Russian-American summitmeeting in Copenhagen on 18 December, when the two presidents took part in work ofthe UN conference on global climate change problems.Both leaders were optimistic about prospects for signing a new START. Medvedevemphasized that "our positions are very close and practically all issues we werediscussing in recent months have been closed." "Certain technical details remainthat all the same need to be refined in such an important agreement," the Russianleader announced. Obama confirmed that the parties "achieved excellent progressin this area" and "are very close to reaching agreement." The US president notedespecially that his Russian colleague "was a very effective partner in thesetalks."Statements voiced in Copenhagen removed the acuteness that had arisen suddenlylast week in the question of concluding a new START. Sergey Lavrov, head of theRF MID [Foreign Ministry], declared on 17 December that "a slowdown in theposition of American negotiators at Geneva" had been noticed in Moscow. Nowexperts of the two countries who were preparing the document are leaving for theChristmas holidays and will return to the talks in mid-January.Despite all efforts, Russia and the United States will enter 2010 without a newSTART. The validity of the previous one, signed in 1991, expired on 5 December.Judging from everything, a new document will be ready no earlier than the end ofJanuary 2010. Assistant to the Russian President Sergey Prikhodko, whoaccompanied Medvedev in Copenhagen, promised that refinement of details "at theexpert level" will begin in January. According to him, "the presidents expressedconfidence that work on the document will be concluded in the near future, in thevery next work period." "Agreement is required only for technical details, butthe date of the future signing is not being named especially so as not to placeextra pressure on the delegations," Mr. Prikhodko emphasized."Russia and the United States wished to prepare for signing a new START by 5December, but the time for preparing the document was extremely tight from thevery beginning," RAN [Russian Academy of Sciences] USA and Canada Institute DeputyDirector Major-General Pavel Zolotarev told Vremya Novostey. He recalled that inJuly, when the new administration of President Obama and the Russian side made thedecision to draw up the treaty, "actually only a half-year remained to preparesuch a serious document."Analysts note that delegations of the two countries have to settle the lastdisagreements, which concern in particular the nature of mutual monitoring, thenumber of inspections, and principles for the exchange of telemetry. In addition,the main issue of the number of strategic delivery vehicles and nuclear warheadsthat Russia and the United States will be allowed to have must be agreed uponconclusively. Maj-Gen Zolotarev is sure that "a political decision of the twopresidents obviously will be required on these issues." According to him,"figures for the reduction of delivery vehicles already have succeeded in beingbrought together to the maximum possible extent."

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