Russia ready to discuss inspections with U.S. on arms treaty: RIA

Vladimir Yermakov, Director general of the Department for non-proliferation and arms control of Russia attends the 2nd Preparatory session of the 2020 Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready to discuss mutual inspections with the United States in order to save the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, RIA news agency cited Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying on Friday.

Last week Washington said Russia must scrap its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missiles and launchers or modify the weapons’ range to return to compliance to the Cold War-era arms control treaty.

It gave Moscow a deadline of 60 days or it would begin to withdraw from the pact.

“If the United States really wants to come to some kind of agreement with us, then we need to sit down at the negotiating table in an inter-agency format and agree on everything in detail. We are ready for this,” foreign ministry official Vladimir Yermakov was cited as saying.

Yermakov also said Russia categorically ruled out inspections being carried out on Russia on a unilateral basis but that any serious actions on arms control “are only possible on the basis of mutually legally binding inter-government agreements.”

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky