- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. and Russia pledged yesterday to reduce their stockpiles of long-range nuclear weapons “to the lowest possible” level.

As an outgrowth of the latest round of talks between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two countries also said they were fully committed to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technology.

A pivotal 1991 treaty called for reduction of long-range U.S. and Russian nuclear missiles by about one-third, or to a maximum of 6,000 deployed strategic warheads, apiece. It is scheduled to expire in December 2009.

The 2002 Moscow treaty went further, calling on each side to reduce its operationally deployed strategic warheads to 1,700 to 2,220.

In an exchange of data in January, the Russians claimed to have 4,162 strategic warheads, and the U.S. claimed 5,866 in its arsenal.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and a longtime arms-control specialist, urged Mr. Bush before his talks Monday with Mr. Putin in Kennebunkport, Maine, to make sure the 1991 treaty was extended with binding language.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the two sides intended to carry out strategic offensive reductions “to the lowest possible level consistent with their national security requirements and alliance commitments.”

The countries will work toward developing an arrangement “to provide continuity and predictability” about their arsenals, the brief statement said.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin instructed the two sides to produce “early results,” the statement said.

On other weapons issues, a declaration released with the joint statement said the U.S. and Russia would seek the cooperation of other countries to guard against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The declaration said the U.S. and Russia also would expand their cooperation in the field of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.