Russia to keep making nuke missiles

MOSCOW: President Dmitry Medvedev voiced hope Thursday that Moscow and Washington would reach an agreement on a new nuclear treaty but said Russia would continue developing nuclear missiles to defend itself.

Russia and the United States have missed a series of deadlines to agree a new text setting out major cuts in their nuclear arsenals, after a previous agrement expired on December 5.

Asked about the delays in a live year-end televised interview, Medvedev admitted the negotiations were "difficult" but insisted: "We need to create a quality document. I am sure that we will create it."

"It is not a contract between two cooperatives that can be drawn up in 15 minutes," Medvedev said. "We already are moving fast as it is, we've agreed on practically everything over there."

But Medvedev stressed that Russia would continue to develop a new generation of nuclear missiles.

"Despite the fact that we will prepare and sign this treaty, we will still be pursuing the development of our strategic offensive forces because it is not possible to defend our country without them."

"We will of course be pursuing the development of new systems, including delivery systems, that is missiles."

Newsweek's Russian edition said this week, citing unnamed Russian diplomats, that the US-Russian agreement might be ditched altogether.

The chief of Russian armed forces' general staff, Nikolai Makarov said this week that "some serious difficulties" remained in the talks, but that the deal would likely be inked in January.