Vladimir Putin says U.S. missile shield hinders nuclear deal

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said U.S. plans for a missile defense system were hindering talks on a new nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Vladimir PutinSpeaking to reporters in the Russian Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, Putin said U.S. plans for the missile shield in Europe would destroy the strategic balance between the United States and Russia.

“In order to preserve balance… we need to develop offensive weapons systems,” Putin said. He added that Russia wanted access to more information on U.S. missile defense plans and would link such a demand with the new nuclear treaty.

The two largest nuclear powers have been trying to find a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which led to the biggest reduction in nuclear weapons in history, but have so far failed to reach a deal.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev failed to clinch a deal when they met on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen earlier this month. No reason was given, although they said they were close to an agreement.

Moscow has already expressed concern about a new generation of U.S. non-nuclear weapons with the destructive capability of some atomic weapons and has voiced reservations about the latest U.S. plans to develop a ship-based anti-missile shield.

Putin criticized the original U.S. plans to install interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic, but has not previously made an explicit link between the ongoing START talks and the revised shield plans.

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