The United States is sending a top arms-control official to Moscow to convince the Russians to continue to decommission deployed nuclear weapons by saying it would save the two countries $8 billion a year, Kommersant reported Monday, citing an undisclosed source.
White House officials reportedly believe that the approaching limit of 1,550 strategic deployed nuclear weapons, agreed upon in the 2010 New START agreement, could be brought down to 1,000 without compromising nuclear deterrence between the two powers.
Pyotr Topychkanov, a nonproliferation program coordinator at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that "in terms of its defense strategy, the U.S. is shifting its focus toward conventional [non-nuclear] weapons, while Russia remains more nuclear-dependent. Therefore, it is easier for the U.S. to talk about further nuclear arms reductions."
"Russia cannot keep up with the pace of these [conventional-weapon] developments and thus still heavily relies on its nuclear might," he added. "In contrast with the U.S., Russia also finds itself in a close vicinity of many other nuclear-weapon states, such as India, Pakistan and North Korea."
Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance, was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday for three days of talks on "bilateral and international arms control, nonproliferation and international security," the U.S. State Department said in a terse statement on its website.
When reached by phone, a State Department representative was unable to immediately comment about the trip.