Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Treaty in Question on Eve of Perry's Arrival

A senior Defense Ministry official, quoted by Interfax, said Tuesday major changes were needed to the keynote START II nuclear disarmament treaty before Russia could ratify it.

The agency quoted the official as saying that "quantitative and qualitative" changes should be made to the nuclear arms pact, which was signed by the U.S. and Russian presidents in 1993.

He expected the ministry to raise the issue when U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry visits Moscow this week.

But a spokesman for Defense Minister Igor Rodionov said he had no information about any Russian demands to amend the treaty. "This is a personal opinion of Interfax's source. We at the Defense Ministry do not have any information of this kind," Viktor Boronets said by telephone.

The second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by President Boris Yeltsin and then-U.S. president George Bush in January 1993, would require the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear stocks to between 3,000 and 3,500 long-range warheads each by the year 2003.

Perry, due in Moscow on Wednesday, will press Russia's State Duma to ratify the pact.

The U.S. Senate ratified it last January, but the document is likely to face a rougher ride in the Duma which is dominated by the Communists and their allies.

A member of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, quoted by Ekho Moskvy radio, said Perry needed to understand that Russia had financial reasons for delaying ratification.

"He [Perry] understands Russia cannot fulfill the conditions of START II within the timeframe laid down because of financial difficulties, and we hope that Perry will say the Americans are ready to extend the deadline," Vladimir Averchev said.

A senior U.S. defense official said last week that nuclear arsenals were expensive to maintain and added that new cuts, coming at a time of economic and military turmoil in Russia, would free up money for the country's conventional forces.

, which would slash Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to one third of their Cold War levels