Putin: Russia Willing to Abandon Nukes if Others Do

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is willing to abandon nuclear weapons if the United States and all other countries that have them do the same.

"If those who made the atomic bomb and used it are ready to abandon it — like, I hope, other nuclear powers — officially and unofficially owning them — of course we will welcome and facilitate this process in all ways," Putin said, according to state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

Putin spoke at a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said earlier that the idea of scrapping nuclear arms altogether rather than limiting their proliferation was a real prospect.

"The goal of global zero is not a game for utopians, but will be taken up by the doyens of U.S. foreign policy as well as by German and Polish politicians," Steinmeier said.

In a joint declaration on April 1, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered negotiators to start work on a new treaty reducing their nuclear stockpiles as a first step toward "a nuclear-weapon-free world."

Ridding the world of atomic weapons was raised at a 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, between Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.