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Obama seeking deep nuke cuts with Russia

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to slash the nuclear stockpiles of the United States and Russia by as much as 80 percent, sources say.

Obama is intent on re-engaging with Russia on the kind of arms reduction talks that resulted in the 1991 START treaty, which expires at the end of this year, and envisions as few as 1,000 nuclear warheads for each country, The Times of London quoted unnamed administration sources saying Wednesday.

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Negotiations on such a new arms treaty would include a review of the Bush administration's plans for an Eastern European missile defense shield, which the Bush administration said was meant to protect against "rogue states" -- but which Moscow sees as part of a NATO expansionist push, the newspaper said.

The talks will be overseen by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the sources said.

"We are going to re-engage Russia in a more traditional, legally binding arms reduction process," The Times quoted a White House official saying. "We are prepared to engage in a broader dialogue with the Russians over issues of concern to them. Nobody would be surprised if the number reduced to the 1,000 mark for the post-START treaty."

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