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Russia Wants Lower Warhead Limit In New Arms Pact

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) meets with Dutch Queen Beatrix in The Hague.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -- Russia wants a new arms pact with the United States to set lower limits on nuclear warheads than envisaged by a 2002 treaty, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

"As far as warheads are concerned, their levels should be lower than envisaged in the Moscow treaty of 2002" between Russia and the United States, Medvedev told a news conference in Amsterdam.

He was referring to the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), under which both sides are to cut their arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

As of January 1, Russia had a total of 3,909 warheads while the United States had 5,576 warheads, according to U.S. State Department data. The Russian Foreign Ministry has not published its own figures.

Medvedev, who is visiting the Netherlands, also said Russia was willing to cut the number of its nuclear missiles in the deal.

The two former superpower rivals hope to announce progress on a new arms-control treaty aimed at reducing vast arsenals of Cold War nuclear weapons when U.S. President Barack Obama makes his inaugural visit to Russia on July 6-8.

Medvedev said that negotiations on a successor pact to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), that expires on December 5, had got off to a good start.