U.S.-Russian talks on tactical nuclear arms cuts will take time

Reaching an agreement with Russia on cutting the tactical nuclear weapons stockpiles is likely to be a complicated process, Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, has said.

“Moving missile defense from a negative to a positive factor in our relationship could facilitate cooperation in other areas as well, including talks on further reductions in strategic, non-strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons. But reaching any agreement will not be easy and it will take time,” Tauscher said.

The remarks came on the eve of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow, during which they are expected to discuss various issues of Russian-U.S. military and technical cooperation.

When ratifying the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Moscow in December 2010, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution obligating the government to start bilateral talks on cutting the TNW stockpiles – landmines, artillery shells and short-range missiles. Washington says Moscow has a larger number of these systems.

President Barack Obama said in a message to the Senate in February his country expects to hold talks with Russia on TNW within a year after the New START arms reduction deal came into force on February 5.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in January that it is too early to discuss limiting TNW with the United States because Russia needs to see the way the U.S. fulfills its commitments under the New START.

Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said in mid-February that the Washington was ready to begin multilateral talks on tactical nuclear weapons reduction in Europe. U.S. officials will visit a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland, in the near future to discuss the issue with the countries’ authorities, she said.