New arms reduction deal expected soon: Russian FM

22:38, December 25, 2009      

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A new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty will be signed in the very near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

"The work has effectively entered the home stretch," Lavrov said in an interview with Russian news channel Vesti 24.

"Just a little is left to be done. The presidents have issued unambiguous instructions, and it is up to professionals and experts to put it on paper," he said.

Moscow and Washington are expected to sign a new document at the beginning of 2010 to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), which expired on Dec. 5.

Lavrov said on Tuesday that the new treaty envisions "radical, unprecedented" cuts in the number of strategic offensive weapons.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama announced at their first meeting in April that the countries would find a successor to the START-1 as part of their efforts to "reset" bilateral ties.

The START-1, signed in 1991 between the Soviet Union and the United States, obliged both sides to reduce the number of their nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600.

The new treaty's outline agreed by the two presidents at a July summit in Moscow included slashing nuclear arsenals to 1,500 to 1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500 to 1,000.

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