Obama, Medvedev making 'progress' on new nuclear treaty

President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said over the weekend that they are making progress toward a new nuclear nonproliferation treaty, but White House officials said there will not be a new treaty before the existing one expires on Dec. 5.

Obama and Medvedev, meeting in Singapore, said they are getting close to a deal that would have to be ratified through the Senate and the Russian Duma.

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"Our goal continues to be to complete the negotiations and to be able to sign a deal before the end of the year," Obama said. "And I'm confident that if we work hard and with a sense of urgency about it that we should be able to get that done."

Administration officials said it is impossible to get a treaty ratified and in place before the existing START treaty ends, but they said the plan is to come to an agreement on a bridging agreement that would keep in place the central aspects of the START treaty until a new one can be completed.

Mike McFaul, the National Security Council senior director for Russia, told reporters that he does think that bridging agreement will be put in place before Dec. 5, and the two countries are making progress on the overall treaty.

"But we're not at the endgame yet, we're not at the end of the year," McFaul said. "We still have some fairly major things to finish."

Obama and Medvedev also discussed the ongoing Iran situation, with Obama saying that "we are running out of time" for Iran to answer whether it will agree to export its uranium to Russia for enrichment. That proposal from the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is viewed by some as a compromise that would help prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

"Unfortunately, so far at least Iran appears to have been unable to say yes to what everyone acknowledges is a creative and constructive approach," Obama said.

Medvedev said that despite frustrations from both countries, "this process did not stop, did not become a stumbling stone which is impossible to bypass."

"It is still under way. But nonetheless, we're still not satisfied with the pace of advancement of the process," Medvedev said.

Obama traveled to China over the weekend, where he will remain for three days.