Tauscher goes to St Petersburg for missile defence talks

WASHINGTON, August 10 (Itar-Tass) —— U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher will visit St. Petersburg on August 11-12, the Department of State said on Wednesday, August 10.

Tauscher plans to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to continue the discussion on cooperation in the field of missile defence.

She said earlier that the United States was preparing for talks with Russia on further nuclear arms cuts, seeking to consolidate positive results achieved in this field

Tauscher recalled that two years ago in Prague U.S. President Barack Obama had declared America’s commitment to “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The two years since then have been “exceedingly productive”, Tauscher noted. And yet, she made it clear that “we will not rest on our laurels”.

“I can tell you with certainty that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will not let us do so. Despite the many pressing global challenges, the President has directed us to keep up the momentum and lay the ground work for additional progress,” she said.

Among successes, Tauscher named the ratification by Senate of the New START Treaty with Russia in December 2010.

“We have exchanged more than 1,000 notifications since February. We also have begun conducting on-site inspections. To date, we have conducted seven inspections inside Russia, while it has done five here,” she said.

Access and information required by the treaty will “provide important predictability and stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship”, the diplomat stressed.

She believes that “without that access and information, the risks of miscalculations, misunderstandings, and mistrust would be greater”.

Tauscher also noted the importance of entry into force of one of the agreements signed earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. She referred specifically to the protocol on the extension of commitments to dispose of excess weapon-grade plutonium. Each country to dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium, which represents enough total material for “approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons”, she said.

According to the undersecretary, as the U.S. is implementing New START, “we are preparing for further nuclear reduction negotiations with Russia. Under the President’s direction, the U.S. Government is reviewing our nuclear requirements. The Department of Defence and other agencies will consider what forces the United States needs to maintain strategic stability and deterrence and consider factors such as potential changes in targeting requirements and alert postures.”

At the same time, she confirmed that Washington’s intention over the next ten years to invest 85 billion U.S. dollars in the upgrading of “nuclear infrastructure”, including both Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but these investments will allow greater reductions because the same infrastructure is used to eliminate warheads, and with greater confidence and capability in our infrastructure and people we will not have to keep so many spare weapons,” Tauscher said.

According to the Department of State’s fact sheet, Russia has 1,537 operationally deployed warheads on 521 carriers, and the U.S. has 1,800 warheads on 882 vehicles.

New START that entered into force on February 5, 2011, allows each country to have 1,500 deployed warheads and 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-based ICBMs and bombers on combat duty.

The new START Treaty was signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on April 8. The previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expired on December 5, 2009.

Following the ratification of the treaty, Medvedev said Russia and the United States should continue nuclear arms reduction and should not stop at New START.

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed in early February that his country hoped to begin negotiations with Russia on the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons not later than a year after the New START treaty enters into force.

“The United States will seek to initiate, following consultation with NATO Allies but not later than 1 year after the entry into force of the New START Treaty, negotiations with the Russian Federation on an agreement to address the disparity between the non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons stockpiles of the Russian Federation and of the United States and to secure and reduce tactical nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner,” Obama said.

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