Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the presidents of Russia and the United States are unlikely to sign a new treaty to curb their nuclear arsenals when they meet in Copenhagen this week.
Lavrov also complained that US negotiators had slowed down the pace of work in the past two days in Geneva, hampering efforts to finalize a replacement to the successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
"This is unlikely to happen in Copenhagen," Lavrov said. "We still have a big workload - of a purely technical character - facing us."
Both US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are expected to be in the Danish capital this week to attend the climate change summit, providing a potential opportunity for the leaders to sign the new Treaty.
"In the last couple of days we have noticed some slowing down in the position of US negotiators in Geneva. They explain this by the need to receive additional instructions. But our team is ready for work," said Lavrov.
"I believe that if Russian and US negotiators concentrate on implementing these remaining orders from the presidents, we will reach agreement within a pretty brief period."
START, the biggest agreed nuclear weapons cut in history was due to lapse on Dec 5 but both sides agreed it should remain in force pending agreement on a successor.
Signing of the agreement would provide further signals that previously tense relations between the United States and Russia were easing.
The START-1 treaty, signed by then US President George H W Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, took nearly a decade to achieve. Under the deal, Russia more than halved its nuclear arsenal, the Foreign Ministry has said.
Over the past decade, relations between Moscow and Washington became strained over the Iraq war, NATO's eastward expansion and last year's Georgia war.
But Obama pledged to improve ties when he became president.
Last July, Obama and Medvedev outlined a framework for the new treaty, restricting deployed strategic warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 while limiting the number of delivery platforms to between 500 and 1,100.
The United States and Russia would still have enough firepower to destroy the world several times over.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Linda Kennedy is a presenter and writer. She has reported and commented extensively on BBC TV, and was a correspondent for "News at Ten" on ITV. She also wrote a column for The Scotsman newspaper.