Russia says it showed hypersonic nuclear missile system to U.S. inspectors

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday it had shown the country’s new Avangard nuclear missile system to U.S. inspectors for the first time, a move Moscow said showed a key arms control treaty was still effective.

Russia is due to deploy next month the Avangard system, a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, one of several new types of weapons touted by President Vladimir Putin as ahead of their time.

The Defence Ministry said a group of visiting U.S. arms inspectors had been shown the Avangard system from Nov. 24-26 under the auspices of the New START treaty, which came into effect in 2011.

The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy to no more than 1,550 each.

The treaty, which is due to expire in 2021, also curbs the number of nuclear launchers and deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers they can have.

Putin has said Moscow is ready to extend the pact, but has complained about what he sees as Washington’s lack of interest.

President Donald Trump, who told Putin in 2017 he thought it a bad deal for the United States, will only decide next year whether or not to extend the treaty, U.S. officials have said.

It was signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, with Russia in 2010.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Gareth Jones