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Putin Urges US to Provide Missile Defense Information

Russian prime minister says that more information from the United States would help Russia develop an offensive weapons systems.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday urged the United States to provide Moscow with data about U.S. missile defense developments as part of an information exchange under a new arms treaty. The previous treaty expired December 5.

Speaking with reporters in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostock, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia wants access to more information on U.S. missile defense plans.

Mr. Putin says that more information from the United States would help Russia develop an offensive weapons systems.

He says that America is building an anti-missile defense system and that Russia isn't. But the issues of missile defense and offensive weapons are closely linked and that if Russia doesn't develop anti-missile defense, there could be a danger that, having established an umbrella against Russia's offensive strike systems, America may come to feel completely safe, and this balance will be disrupted. Then, America will do whatever it wants and its aggressiveness will grow.

Mr Putin adds that plans for a missile defense system are also hindering talks on a new nuclear arms reduction treaty.

His comments come as Russia and the United States are struggling to find a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

That treaty, which expired in early December, led to the biggest reduction in nuclear weapons in history.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, but failed to clinch a deal.

At the time, the two did not say why they could not reach a deal.  They did say, however, that they were closer to reaching an agreement.

Earlier this year, Mr. Obama removed a major irritant in relations by scrapping the previous administration's plan to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has praised the decision, but also wants to know more about the missile defense system the U.S. wants to put in its place.

Negotiations are expected to continue in Geneva after the new year.

Russia and the U.S. hold more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

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