WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama urged Russia on Tuesday to work with the United States to "update" a decades-old agreement on dismantling nuclear and chemicals weapons that is set to expire in mid-2013.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in October that Moscow intended to end the 1992 agreement, the latest sign that the much-vaunted "reset" in relations between the Cold War-era foes may be running out of steam.
Obama, attending a conference of nuclear anti-proliferation experts at the National War College in Washington, took note of Moscow's complaints and expressed optimism the pact would be extended.
"Russia has said that our current agreement hasn't kept pace with the changing relationship between our countries," Obama said. "To which we say, 'let's update it.'"
"I'm optimistic that we can," he said.
The project has been extended twice, most recently in 2006. U.S. officials say it has helped to deactivate more than 7,650 strategic warheads, neutralized an unspecified number of chemical weapons, safeguarded fissile materials and mitigated biological threats.