The last major nuclear disarmament agreement between Russia and the United States could expire in February. Now the Russian President Putin has proposed to extend the New Start Treaty without preconditions. The US refused.
Four months before the expiry of the last major nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an unconditional extension of the New Start Agreement for at least a year. This time could be used for “meaningful negotiations on all the details,” he said at a video conference of his Security Council in Moscow. “It would be a shame if this contract no longer existed.” The agreement will expire in February if both sides fail to agree on an extension.
The US government rejected Putin’s move. The proposal was “a huge blow,” said US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien. “We hope that Russia will reassess its position before a costly arms race sets in.”
USA set conditions
The US special envoy for disarmament issues, Marshall Billingslea, said on Tuesday that the US government was ready to extend the treaty for a certain period of time – if Russia promises to limit its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. “We are ready to do the same.”
O’Brien has now announced that the US had also proposed an extension of one year under these conditions and had assumed after the latest negotiations that Russia would accept this. “That would have been a win for both sides.”
The New Start Treaty limits the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the USA to 800 delivery systems and 1,550 operational nuclear warheads each. Moscow and Washington ended an initial round of negotiations on the future of the agreement in June with no tangible results. If the treaty is not extended or a new agreement is not concluded, there would be no agreement for the first time in decades that limits the stock of strategic nuclear weapons.