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Russia foreign minister says US nuclear arms treaty imminent

[JURIST] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [official profile; BBC profile] said Friday that nuclear arms reduction negotiations with the US are likely to resume in early February and will soon result in a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty. The treaty is to be the successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [text], which expired in December. Official negotiations in Geneva stopped during the holiday season, and have yet to resume, although US National Security Advisor James Jones and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen [official profiles] were in Moscow this week to further the treaty negotiations. Both US and Russian officials have expressed their desire to conclude negotiations quickly in order to set an example before the upcoming Global Nuclear Security Summit [NTI backgrounder] in April, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference [CAC fact sheet] in May.

Nuclear disarmament between the US and Russia, whose nuclear arsenals comprise 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, languished [JURIST report] during the Bush administration. The treaty is considered a key part of easing tensions between the former Cold War rivals, which reached their worst point after the 2008 Georgia conflict [BBC backgrounder]. In July, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profiles] agreed [NYT report] that the treaty should reduce the maximum number of nuclear warheads that each country could have to between 1,500 and 1,675, down from the previous limitation of 2,200. They also agreed to reduce the maximum number of delivery vehicles allowed to between 500 and 1,100, down from 1,600.

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