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UN chief says Russia-U.S. arms deal key for nuke-free

By RIA Novosti,

United Nations : UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the commitments made by the U.S. and Russia to reduce strategic and nuclear weapons were “extremely important” to achieve a world free of nuclear arms.

The UN chief made the comments hours before U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Security Council, which is to focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the UN-backed Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CNBT).

Ban earlier called the July agreement between Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow to cut their countries’ nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 and operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000 “a very rare momentum created [by] the international community.”

At a Conference of Disarmament in May a program was adopted allowing the UN to negotiate and discuss non-proliferation and strategic disarmament.

Russia and the U.S. held a sixth round of talks on nuclear arms reduction on Monday in Geneva. Medvedev said that the chance of Russia reaching an agreement with the U.S. on a new arms deal (START) by the end of 2009 was “sufficiently high.”

According to a report published by the U.S. State Department in April, as of January 1 Russia had 3,909 nuclear warheads and 814 delivery vehicles, including ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers.

The same report said the United States had 5,576 warheads and 1,198 delivery vehicles.