Four months before the expiry of the last major nuclear disarmament treaty, the US government rejected a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend it. Putin’s proposal to extend the New Start treaty without freezing nuclear warheads is “a bummer,” said Robert O’Brien, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
“We hope that Russia will reassess its position before a costly arms race begins.”
Russian President Putin had previously offered an unconditional extension of the new-start nuclear disarmament agreement for one year without preconditions. He proposes to extend the existing agreement with the United States for at least a year to allow for extensive negotiations, Putin said Friday, according to the Kremlin.
New Start is the last remaining nuclear disarmament agreement between the US and Russia and will expire in February. The agreement has worked well so far, Putin said Friday at a meeting with the National Security Council.
It would be “a great shame” if it were no longer effective. When the treaty expires, all restrictions on the use of strategic nuclear weapons will be lifted. Nothing would stand in the way of an arms race between the US and Russia. Despite months of talks, the two states disagree on an extension of the agreement. The US has also proposed including China in the treaty.
A few days ago, the US announced that there was a fundamental agreement with Russia on an extension. However, US negotiator Marshall Billingslea imposed a restriction or “freezing” of Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a condition.
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Moscow at the time dismissed this as “unacceptable”. The so-called New Start Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was signed in 2010 and is the last major agreement between the US and Russia to control their nuclear weapons.
In the disarmament agreement, Russia and the United States committed to reducing the number of nuclear warheads to a maximum of 1,550 – about 30 percent less than in the previous Sort treaty of 2002. In addition, the number of delivery systems would be reduced to 800 each. Washington and Moscow ended a first round of negotiations on the future of a fresh start in June with no tangible results. The US government is pushing for China to participate in the disarmament talks. (AFP, Reuters)