MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and the U.S. will both benefit from a new strategic arms reduction agreement, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Friday.
Some Russian analysts earlier suggested that the new document to replace the START 1 treaty, which expires in December, would be disadvantageous for Russia because the U.S. has moved way ahead of Moscow in the development of advanced weaponry.
"Summing up all the factors, we certainly need this treaty. Our position [on the issue] has not appeared out of the blue," Sergei Ryabkov said on Echo Moskvy radio prior to the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Russia on July 6-8.
"I do not see anything here that cannot be defended in our viewpoint or anything that could be criticized as an attempt to betray Russia's interests or to undermine our position," the diplomat said.
The START 1 treaty obliges Russia and the United States to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. In 2002, a follow-up agreement on strategic offensive arms reduction was concluded in Moscow. The document, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012.
Russia, which proposed a new arms reduction agreement in 2005, expects Washington to agree on a deal that would restrict not only the numbers of nuclear warheads, but also place limits on all existing kinds of delivery vehicles.
Moscow insists that discussions on a new arms reduction deal with Washington should be linked to U.S. plans for a missile shield in Central Europe.
Ryabkov earlier said that Russia and the United States have made more significant progress in the preparation of a new strategic arms reduction treaty than the sides expected.
He expressed the hope that the sides would be able "to prepare a comprehensive document outlining the verification measures and information exchange procedures, which contain provisions to ensure equal security and significant reduction of strategic offensive weapons through effective verification" by December this year.
According to a report published by the U.S. State Department in April, as of January 1 Russia had 3,909 nuclear warheads and 814 delivery vehicles, including ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers.
The same report said the United States had 5,576 warheads and 1,198 delivery vehicles.