Russia raises concerns over U.S. implementation of arms control treaty

National flags of Russia and the U.S. fly at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, May 24 (Reuters) - Russia's foreign ministry on Monday raised concerns over Washington's implementation of the New START nuclear arms control treaty and said the number of U.S. launchers and bombers exceeded the agreed limit.

The United States has said it is in full compliance with the treaty and that it stands by its conversion procedures to render launchers and heavy bombers incapable of employing nuclear weapons and put them outside the treaty.

Russia and Washington extended the New START treaty in February. It is a cornerstone of global arms control and limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

The remarks by Russia's foreign ministry come amid a push to organise a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden next month despite dire ties between the two countries. Russia said earlier on Monday it was drawing up proposals for the meeting's possible agenda.

In a statement, the ministry said 56 U.S. launchers and 41 heavy bombers had been removed from Washington's declared arsenal and that Moscow was unable to confirm that they were no longer nuclear-capable. It also said four underground missile silos had also been removed from the count.

"Thus, the figure allowed under ... the Treaty is exceeded by the United States by 101," it said.

Russia has raised similar concerns in the past.

A spokesman for the State Department reiterated that Washington was in full compliance and implementing the treaty.

"The United States has explained many times why U.S. conversion procedures are in full compliance with its treaty obligations...and is prepared to do so again as we continue to implement the treaty for an additional five years as Russia agreed to in February," a spokesperson for the State Department said.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alison Williams

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