4 December 2009
The Russian Foreign Ministry says talks with the United States on finding a replacement for the nuclear disarmament treaty are "coming to a close", just hours before the existing treaty, the START 1 agreement signed in 1991, is due to expire.
Click to hear the report:
In spite of frenetic diplomatic activity between Washington and Moscow and the reset of relations between the two sides, it was always going to be difficult for a new arms control treaty to come into force before Friday's deadline, and so talks will continue after the old START agreement expires.
Kremlin sources appear optimistic that something can be agreed while President Obama is in Europe next week to receive his Nobel Peace Prize.
But the details of the new, complex agreement have not been finalised. It will also need to be ratified in both parliaments and that could take months. The United States has indicated that it wants an interim agreement to allow it to continue to observe Russia's nuclear arsenals once Friday's deadline passes. But that has also still not been formalised.
In July President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed a joint understanding that would see reductions of deployed nuclear warheads to below 1,700 each within seven years of a new treaty, a huge cut on Soviet-era levels.
Tom Esslemont, BBC News, Moscow
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- frenetic diplomatic activity
here, a great number of high-level meetings and talks between people who manage relations between the two countries
- the reset of relations
when two sides begin to maintain contacts and make dealings in a new way, different than in the past
- to come into force
to become effective/valid
if you have a deadline, you must do something by a certain time
stops being effective/valid, is out of date
- an interim agreement
an agreement that will be valid until a more long-term one can be signed, a temporary agreement
here, made official
- a huge cut on
a lot fewer than