Russia may build up arsenal if START fails: Putin

1st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia is likely to build up its nuclear arsenal if the United States fails to ratify the new START treaty signed earlier this year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told CNN in an interview to be broadcast Wednesday.

"That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part," Putin told CNN's Larry King, according to excerpts released by the channel.

"We've been simply saying that this is what all of us expects to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there."

Putin said it would take "a very dumb nature" for the United States to ignore its own interests but that without a treaty "then we'll have to react somehow," including the deployment of new nuclear missile technology.

The comments came amid uncertainty about the fate of the treaty signed this year by US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002.

The Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has indicated it will ratify the treaty only after its ratification by the US Senate.

The agreement, a top Obama foreign policy initiative, replaces a previous accord that lapsed in December 2009 but ratification has been held up by opposition Republicans.

Republicans say they need to be sure that the US nuclear arsenal will be modernized and that the treaty will not hamper US missile defense efforts -- but some have acknowledged privately that they did not want to hand Obama a major diplomatic victory before last month's elections.

The task of ratifying the accord will be even tougher in January when a new Congress, elected in the November 2 polls in which Republicans routed Democrats, takes office.

© 2010 AFP

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