Russia to continue developing nuclear arms after new START treaty

20:17, December 24, 2009      

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Russia will go on developing strategic offensive weapons after it signs a new treaty on strategic arms reduction with the United States, said President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday.

"Even after we prepare and sign this treaty, we will still continue to develop our strategic offensive forces because without them we cannot defend our country," said Medvedev in a live interview with the heads of three Russian national TV channels.

"We will continue developing new systems, including delivery vehicles. That is normal. The rest of the world is doing it," the president was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Moscow and Washington have been in intense talks over the past few months in a bid to find a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), which expired on Dec. 5.

Medvedev said the two countries have "agreed upon virtually everything" on the new treaty.

Meanwhile, the Russian head of state said his country has strong and effective enough nuclear deterrence to secure its national interests.

"Our nuclear shield can assume all tasks that are assigned to it," he said.

The approximately one-hour live TV interview aired on Thursday noon is expected to see Medvedev summing up the results of the outgoing 2009, with a primary focus on domestic and foreign policies, the economy and welfare, said a Kremlin spokeswoman earlier.

In last December's debut broadcast, Medvedev spoke about situations in former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the global financial crisis and constitutional amendments.

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