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      Moscow Refuses to Renew Arms Agreement With Washington

      The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction sought to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union.
      By Scott Krane
      First Publish: 10/14/2012, 3:20 AM

      Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
      Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
      www.kremlin.ru

      Moscow declared it will not be renewing a 1991 agreement with Washington on dismantling chemical and nuclear weapons when it expires next year, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday.

      "The basis of the program is an agreement of 1991 which, by virtue of the time when it was conceived, the way it was worked out and prepared, does not meet very high standards. The agreement doesn't satisfy us, especially considering new realities," Interfax quoted him as saying. The agreement had been updated twice since inception.

      The agreement, called the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction, originally sought to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union. It was ratified by Russia in 2006 and will expire in 2013, according to Reuters. The agreement successfully deactivated more than 7,650 strategic warheads. The program was partially named for Rick Lugar, a U.S. senator who was in Russia in August to try and push renewal of the program.

      During his trip to Moscow, Lugar said he had suggested Moscow and Washington work together to reduce Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. Russia was accused by the U.S. State Department in June of arming troops fighting to defend the regime of Bashar Assad. Then two days later, it backtracked. 

      An Associated Press report reads: “The US state department has acknowledged that Russian helicopters it claimed had been sent recently to the Syrian regime were, in fact, refurbished ones already owned by Damascus.”

      However, an Associated Press article from August reads: “Russia…soundly rejected U.S. calls for increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish power. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to prod Moscow into supporting U.N. action to end the crisis in Syria and she expressed hope that Congress would repeal Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia.”

      “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after meeting Clinton on the sidelines of a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders, told reporters that Moscow is opposed to U.S.-backed penalties against the Assad government, in addition to new ones against Iran over its nuclear program, because they harm Russian commercial interests.”

      On Wednesday, Reuters reported “A number of bilateral agreements including the latest START nuclear arms treaty, put in force in February 2011, have built the foundation for the U.S.-Russia ‘restart’ initiated by Washington when President Barack Obama took office in 2008.” This treaty “lowers the ceilings” on long-range weapons, according to Reuters.

      The larger picture, however, undoubtedly shows animosity between Washington and Moscow: “Most notably by Moscow's decision to close the office of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Moscow, which critics say is part of a broader Kremlin crackdown on pro-democracy groups.” reads a story in Reuters.

      In September, Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, told a radio interviewer that “almost everything we try to do globally, they try and oppose.”

      Romney said that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was too soft on Russia. In turn, the Obama campaign criticized Romney for saying earlier this year that Russia was “without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” 

      “Russia is a geopolitical adversary.” he said. “So we try and put pressure on Iran, they fought against crippling sanctions. We tried to get tough language at the U.N. and action against the brutality of [President Bashar] Assad in Syrian, they instead send attack helicopters to Syria. I mean, Russia has been opposing us in political circles for some time.

      “And I was appalled that the president said to [Russia's then-President Dmitri] Medvedev, just wait till after the election when I have more flexibility. How is it that he has flexibility with Russia he won’t tell the American people about? My own view is that Russia has a very different agenda than ours and that we ought to recognize that, and that we should pursue our interests, but recognize Russia as having a different course.”

      Governor Romney's remarks about Obama and Medvedev referred to the president's comments, caught by an open microphone in March, when he told his Russian counterpart, regarding negotiations on the placement of a missile defense system in Europe: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”