Russia's foreign minister said Thursday it is too early to begin discussions with the U.S. on further reductions in nuclear weapons.
Speaking in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) must first be ratified and fully implemented before additional weapons cuts can be discussed.
The Russian parliament is expected to hold a vote on ratifying START at the end of the month. The U.S. Senate approved the treaty in December.
During its debate on the agreement, the Senate called on U.S. President Barack Obama to begin discussions within a year on also reducing stockpiles of smaller, short-range, tactical nuclear weapons not covered by the START agreement. The president agreed.
Some analysts believe Russia sees its tactical nuclear weapons as necessary to offset the conventional superiority of NATO and the United States.
But many experts consider tactical nuclear weapons more of a liability, presenting a terrorism risk because they are smaller, easily transported and easy to conceal.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.