Medvedev Exclusive: New START Treaty vs. Missile Defense

If the missile defense program is a threat, Medvedev would "jeopardize" treaty.

ByABC News via logo
April 11, 2010, 9:48 PM

April 12, 2010— -- Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" that he would consider withdrawing from the nuclear disarmament treaty he and President Obama signed last week, should the U.S. missile defense program in Europe create an "imbalance."

In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Medvedev said the two countries negotiated specific language, or a "formula," in the preamble of the new START treaty that states there is an "interconnection between the strategic offensive arms and missile defense."

"So if those circumstances will change, then we would consider it as the reason to jeopardize the whole agreement. That doesn't mean that because of that rule, if the American side starts to build up the missile system the treaty would automatically lose its power," Medvedev said.

"[If] the other party radically multiplies the number and power of its missile defense system, obviously that missile defense system is indeed becoming a part of the strategic offensive nuclear forces, because it's capable of blocking the action of the other side. So an imbalance occurs, and this would be certainly the reason to have a review of that agreement," Medvedev said.

This issue has long been a sticking point in negotiations between the two countries and Medvedev said should his country feel the missile defense program is a threat, then he would pose the question about a "premature end" to the agreement, but said he hopes that it would not come to that.

Following the signing Thursday of the treaty, which would reduce America's and Russia's nuclear arsenals by a third over seven years, Obama told Stephanopoulos that he is confident the Russians would not withdraw.

"We were firm, and are now absolutely confident that this in no way impedes our ability to move forward on the missile defense program, that's designed not to target Russia," he said in the ABC News interview.

CLICK HERE to read the full transcript of the interview.