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    Medvedev: Russia to Develop New Nuclear Missiles

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    In his end of the year speech, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says his country will develop a new generation of nuclear weaponry, even as it works toward a new strategic arms treaty with the United States.

    Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's comments were broadcast on Russia's state-run television networks.  

    Russia and the United States are continuing to hammer out the details of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.  The current treaty expired earlier this month, and senior U.S. and Russian officials say they expect to reach a new accord in early January.

    President Medvedev says that negotiations have been tense.

    He says in some aspects, Russia is putting slight pressure on its partners, by saying this or that is unacceptable.  He goes on to say that even though Moscow is working on, and will sign a new treaty, the Kremlin will nevertheless work on the development of its strategic assault forces because Russia cannot protect itself without this.

    Mr. Medvedev said new missile technology will be developed in full accordance with any new arms agreements reached with Washington, but that other weapons are necessary.

    He says Russia's nuclear shield allows it to solve all the problems, which it has to solve.  He says of course Russia will develop new systems, including delivery systems, that is, missiles.  He says it is quite normal and that the whole world is doing this.

    The Russian leader also praised U.S. President Barack Obama's recent call for a nuclear-weapons-free world, calling it a "beautiful and right goal."  But he said movement toward that objective should be gradual and should require other nuclear-armed countries to cut their arsenals as well.

    President Medvedev said he is encouraged by the discussions.

    He says, anyway we are moving forward very quickly, we have already agreed almost on all issues."

    Mr. Medvedev used the TV broadcast to touch on a host of other topics, chief among them the environment and the economy.  State-owned media quote the president as saying he is dissatisfied with this month's global-warming summit in Copenhagen, calling it "a lot of hot air."  He said Russia will none-the-less continue to push for domestic energy efficiency and cuts in carbon emissions.

    The president also said Russia has survived the global economic crisis with no major losses.  He said the country could see its gross domestic product grow by 2.5 to five percent in 2010, "in an optimistic scenario."

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