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Putin: Russia Will Give Up Nuclear Weapons*

In a statement that sounds good but never has a real chance of happening, former president and current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that his nation would give up nuclear weapons if everybody else who had them did the same.

“If those who made the atomic bomb and used it are ready to abandon it, along with – I hope – other nuclear powers that officially or unofficially possess it, we will of course welcome and facilitate this process in every possible way,” Putin said.

Russian and American officials are currently negotiating a successor to the 1991 Start Treaty which banned its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers.

A top Russian general who either had not gotten Putin’s memo, or was taking a more practical stand on the matter, said that Russia should not go below 1,500 warheads.

According to the U.S. State Department, Russia currently has 3,909 warheads; the United States has 5,576. A limit of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads by 2012 have already been agreed by both sides.

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