According to the Associated Press, the Russian government said on Tuesday that it is ready to accept the US’s proposal to freeze the number of nuclear warheads and extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries (the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START Treaty). For the one-year proposal, the United States responded that it was ready to reach an agreement quickly.
According to reports, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus welcomed the Russian proposal and said the United States was ready to reach an agreement quickly.
According to the report, the statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs marked a shift in Moscow’s position. Earlier, Russia and the United States rejected each other’s proposals to extend the New START treaty that expired in February this year.
The statement pointed out that if the United States is also ready and does not make any additional demands, then Russia is ready to reach an agreement.
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Medvedev. The agreement limits each country’s strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, and the deployment of no more than 700 missiles and bombers, and plans to conduct a comprehensive on-site inspection to verify compliance with the agreement.
Last year, both Russia and the United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The New START Treaty is the only remaining nuclear arms control agreement between the two countries. Russia proposed an unconditional extension of the nuclear arms control agreement, and the administration of US President Trump initially said that the new agreement would include China.
However, the United States recently changed its position and proposed to extend the New START treaty for one year, but at the same time stated that it must combine the implementation of broader restrictions on US and Russian nuclear warheads. This restriction will cover tactical nuclear warheads, while the New START treaty only restricts strategic nuclear arsenals.
Russia has agreed to extend the New START treaty for one year, but refused to expand nuclear warhead restrictions until Tuesday.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Russia cannot agree to the US proposal to restrict tactical nuclear weapons until the United States agrees to withdraw its nuclear warheads from Europe. Lavrov also pointed out that Russia will not accept the United States’ request for intrusive inspection measures, like the kind of inspectors stationed in missile factories in the 1990s.
According to reports, in the last few days of his reelection campaign, Trump has been looking for ways to improve his foreign policy record. Although he expressed his support for nuclear weapons control, he insisted that the New START treaty was flawed and was not good for the United States.
Hans Kristensen, a U.S. nuclear weapons policy expert and director of the Nuclear Information Department of the Federation of American Scientists, said on Twitter that the terms of the agreement proposed by President Putin will be far lower than the initial requirements of the Trump administration. It does not include the US’s previous insistence that China be part of the new treaty.