WASHINGTON – The White House reacted cautiously Wednesday to Russian President Vladimir Putin's (search) statement that his country is developing a nuclear missile "of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have."
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said it wasn't news to the Bush administration, that President Bush and Putin had discussed the issue previously. He emphasized U.S.-Russia (search) agreements in place to reduce the two countries' nuclear arsenals and Washington's view of Moscow as a crucial partner in the anti-terror battle.
"This is not something that we look at as new," he said. "We are very well aware of their long-standing modernization efforts for their military. ... We are allies now in the global war on terrorism."
McClellan suggested that close ties between Bush and Putin makes alarm unnecessary — but doesn't eliminate Washington's concern.
"We have a very different relationship than we did in the Cold War," he said. "The fact that we do have a good relationship enables us to speak very directly to our Russian friends."
Putin said earlier Wednesday that Russia is researching and successfully testing new nuclear missile systems, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
"I am sure that ... they will be put in service within the next few years and, what is more, they will be developments of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have," Putin was quoted as saying.