Obama says Putin's military focus has slowed nuclear arms cuts

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin prior to a working session at the Group of 20 (G20) leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Pool

By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's focus on building up the military at the expense of economic development has slowed progress on a next phase of nuclear arms reductions. "My preference would be to bring down further our nuclear arsenal," Obama told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day summit on nuclear security, attended by dozens of world leaders. Putin boycotted the summit at a time of increased tensions between Moscow and Washington. After the United States and Russia signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START) in 2010 that went into force a year later, Obama's administration approached Russia to consider a next phase for arms reductions. Obama said on Friday he has not seen the progress he would have liked from Putin "because of the vision that he's been pursuing of emphasizing military might over development," and economic diversification. Putin said last June that Russia would add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal to modernize its programme and overcome anti-missile defence systems near its border. Obama said the possibility of progress in future years on arms reductions with Russia remains as both countries continue to abided by the START agreement. But reductions during Obama's remaining less than 10 months in office are unlikely, he said. Countries with nuclear arms have to ensure they are "up to snuff" and not vulnerable to cyber attacks given technology changes since command and control systems were designed decades ago, Obama said. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Jeff Mason; Editing by James Dalgleish and Diane Craft)