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U.S., Russia to begin data exchange under New START in March - official

MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - The United States and Russia will hold their first information exchange on nuclear stockpiles under the New START treaty on March 22, a U.S. assistant secretary of state said.

The previous such exchange between the world's largest nuclear powers was held in July 2009, when the START 1 agreement was still in force, said Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

- - Under the new arms control deal, which replaces the expired START 1 agreement, the sides are to hold their first information exchange within 45 days after it came into force on February 5. Data exchanges are to be held every six months.

The treaty will provide the U.S. with a "comprehensive picture about lifecycle of Russian strategic forces," and the Russian side "will have the same," Gottemoeller said.

"Notifications of this treaty will be much more extensive in the number of ways and details. One particular feature of the notification is more details than in past," the U.S. official added.

"We will be using a unique identifying number to sign each missile, sea launcher, intercontinental missile, groundbase system or bomber," she went on. "They will have unique identifier that will be included in all notifications about their movement, deployment status."

She also said that the U.S. prepares for a visit by Russian inspectors to its nuclear objects, which is to be held in April.

The new treaty on strategic arms reduction, signed in April by the presidents of Russia and the United States, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, trims nuclear arsenals of both nations to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. The treaty was ratified by the parliaments of the two states late last year.

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