At a Moscow summit in July, Presidents Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama agreed to use the coming months for drafting and signing a replacement to the current START-1 strategic arms reduction treaty, which expires on December 5th. The intercontinental missiles should be further reduced to under 11 hundred, and the nuclear warheads, to under 17 hundred on each side. The two leaders will revisit the matter on Saturday when they meet on the fringes of the next Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore.
In the meantime, Geneva talks between Russian and American experts are under way. Ten days ago, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed arms control with White House national security adviser James Jones at a meeting with him in Moscow. Nudged perhaps by recent anti-Russian posturing on the part of Vice President Joe Biden, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher subsequently spoke about her disappointment with the Moscow talks.
In fact, all problems in the way arise from intransigence by the United States. The Americans refuse to accept clauses on their European missile defences, albeit now likely ship-based, or count intercontinental missiles armed with conventional warheads.
Dr Vladimir Yevseyev of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences calls attention to yet another American insistence: "The American side would not count the dismantled nuclear warheads that are kept in storage. This means it wants to secure the option of instantly redeploying such warheads, up to 4 thousand of them. Russia disagrees, arguing all nuclear warheads that are not scrapped should be counted as actual".
Professor Pavel Zolotarev of the US and Canada Institute also speaks about opposition on the Capitol Hill to the proposed arms cuts: "Backing measures that axe nukes-related jobs may cost many Senators voter support. This makes easy American ratification of new strategic arms cuts highly problematic".
All hopes for progress on the matter are now pinned on the Medvedev-Obama summit in Singapore.