Russia not to enhance nuclear deterrent: Medvedev

19:31, March 05, 2010      

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Russia does not intend to beef up its nuclear potential, but will keep nuclear weapons that are key to the country's independence, President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday.

"We do not need to build up the potential of our strategic deterrence, but possession of nuclear weapons is crucial to pursuing independent policies and to safeguarding sovereignty," Medvedev said at a meeting with Defense Ministry officials.

Russia has been seeking a policy aimed at "maintaining peace, preventing armed conflicts, and contributing to the resolution of post-conflict problems," he said.

Medvedev reiterated that Moscow and Washington had come very close to clinching a new arms control deal.

"We managed to come very close to a new nuclear arms reduction treaty that will further cut relevant arms in a relatively short period of time through intensive talks with the United States," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Earlier this week, Medvedev said during a visit to Paris that Russia and the United States were "close to an accord concerning all the issues" of their nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Russia and the United States last year began talks on a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) that expired on Dec. 5. But they failed to reach a deal before the end of 2009.

An outline of the new arms deal, agreed to by Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama last July, includes each country cutting its number of nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

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