Russia and the US will sign a new nuclear disarmament treaty early next month in the Czech capital, Prague, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported yesterday, citing a diplomatic source.
“The new nuclear disarmament treaty is ready,” said the source, who took part in Friday’s talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the matter.
“The negotiators in Geneva are just matching up the formulations, given the nuances of Russian and English,” the source added.
Russian and US negotiators have been in intense talks to agree a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December, but have so far failed to reach a final accord.
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed last July that the new treaty should slash the number of warheads on either side to between 1,500 and 1,675.
Russian media reports have already said the country’s two leaders would like to sign the final agreement in an Eastern European capital before the US hosts a nuclear security summit on April 12 and April 13.
Kommersant’s source was sure that this would happen and that the treaty would be signed in Prague, as the US side had rejected Kiev as a venue.
The new treaty also acknowledges a link with the planned US missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe, the source said.
The New York Times reported last week that talks had hit a hitch over just this issue.
It said Obama was frustrated that Medvedev was linking the disarmament treaty to the missile defense system.
On Friday, Clinton said Russia and the US were “on the brink” of signing a new nuclear disarmament treaty after resolving all outstanding issues.
Lavrov concurred, saying: “We believe that in the nearest time we can count on the finishing of negotiations on a new agreement.”
The US currently has some 2,200 nuclear warheads, while Russia is believed to have about 3,000.