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US, Russia agree ‘in principle’ to reduce nuclear stockpiles

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The United States and Russia have reached an “agreement in principle” to slash their nuclear weapons stockpiles, the first such pact in nearly two decades, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

State Department officials could not immediately confirm the report which said the two sides agreed to lower the ceiling for deployed nuclear weapons from the 2,200 decided on in 1991 to between 1,500 and 1,675.

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It would mark a breakthrough in months of negotiations to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which led to deep cuts in both nuclear arsenals after it was signed in 1991 before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Wall Street Journal, citing administration and arms control officials, said US and Russian arms control negotiators reached an “agreement in principle” on the nuclear arms reduction pact.

It said that the deal, in addition to reducing deployed nuclear weapons, would lower nuclear delivery systems more sharply to between 700 and 800 a side.

The breakthrough in the negotiations came two weeks ago when National Security Adviser James Jones and Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, went to Moscow to overcome stumbling blocks, it said.

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Those involved two issues on verification, sharing information on missile flight tests and inspections at missile production plants, it said.

The Wall Street Journal said the agreement was approved in principle last week during a telephone conversation between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Question arose as to whether the START talks were in trouble after negotiators missed a December 5 deadline.

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Nor was there a deal by January 1, even though Obama’s White House said on December 17 that it still aimed to “conclude a good and verifiable (START) agreement by the end of the year.”

However, analysts said negotiators were under pressure to clinch a pact in the run-up to a May review conference for the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which obliges the nuclear powers to show progress on disarmament.


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Trump announces toughest sanctions ‘ever’ on Iran

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President Donald Trump on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran's central bank, calling the measures the toughest ever imposed on another country by the United States.

"We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

"These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country," he said.

The Trump administration has vowed a response after US officials blamed Iran for weekend blasts on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which caused a sharp hike in global crude prices.

The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution.

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Trump uncorks bizarre rant on ‘clean coal’ in Oval Office: ‘When you talk minerals, it’s about digging’

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President Donald Trump on Friday uncorked a strange and nonsensical rant about the virtues of so-called "clean coal" during an Oval Office conversation with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

When asked about the importance of Australia's mineral industry, the president praised the country for doing so much to extract resources in what he described in an environmentally friendly way.

"Coal, as an example, you're the leader of safety in coal digging and we've actually studied it," the president said. "We're doing a lot of coal. You have very little -- you have almost no -- used to have a thing, black lung disease, and in Australia you almost don't have it anymore, you've got all of the dust down."

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The View explodes in confusion after Meghan McCain makes Trump’s Ukraine debacle all about herself

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Meghan McCain managed to place herself at the center of a debate about a whistleblower complaint filed against President Donald Trump.

"The View" grappled with reports that Trump dangled U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for damaging information against Joe Biden, and co-host Abby Huntsman agreed that was an impeachable offense -- but expressed doubts about the accuracy.

"This is a blown-up story and we have no facts, there's no gray area," Huntsman said. "It's black and white, and that would give Trump all the more ammunition if this isn't even true to say, this is what the media does."

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