US-Russian nukes inspections must resume before new arms talks, US says
By Jonathan Landay and Simon Lewis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said on Thursday it could not hold talks with Moscow on a treaty to replace the latest U.S.-Russian pact limiting strategic nuclear weapons until the inspections of the nuclear weapons sites of the two countries, which are currently on hiatus, CV.
“The first step is to resume inspections under the existing New START treaty and we have tried to work with the Russians to that end,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said in an email. email to Reuters, referring to the new strategic treaty. Arms Reduction Treaty that the two countries signed in 2010.
A State Department spokesperson made a similar statement in a separate email.
The parties agreed in March 2020 to suspend inspections of each other’s strategic nuclear weapon sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talks last year on resuming inspections failed to reach an agreement, amid tensions sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which took relations to their most frosty level since the Cold War.
U.S. spokespersons responded to Russian news agency reports this week, citing Russian officials as saying the parties were discussing a possible meeting of an advisory commission where they would discuss issues regarding New START.
The United States is ready to work with Russia in the commission “to resolve implementation issues” and sees “no reason why these issues cannot be properly resolved,” the spokesperson said. of the NSC.
The world’s top nuclear powers have said they are open to talks on a follow-up “framework” to New START, the latest deal limiting deployments by the sides of strategic nuclear warheads and missiles, planes and submarines. sailors who deliver them.
Shortly after taking office last year, Biden agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend the treaty, which was due to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, for another five years.
Under the treaty, the United States and Russia pledged to deploy no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and a maximum of 700 long-range missiles and bombers. Both parties met these commitments by the 2018 deadline.
Each side can carry out up to 18 inspections per year of strategic nuclear weapon sites to ensure that the other respects the limits of the treaty.
Last month, Russia said US sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine had prevented its inspectors from obtaining US visas and Russian planes from flying to the United States.
“There are no similar obstacles to the arrival of American inspectors in Russia,” said a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has raised this issue with the countries concerned, but has not received a response.”
Without directly responding to Russia’s claim, the State Department spokesperson said, “Inspections have been suspended for COVID-related reasons. Both sides can safely resume inspections, and the United States stands ready to work with Russia in the New START Treaty Bilateral Consultative Commission to achieve this goal.
Biden reiterated in a statement Aug. 1 that his administration was ready to negotiate a replacement for New START.
“But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith,” Biden said, referring to the parties’ “shared responsibility to ensure strategic stability.” Despite Putin’s “brutal and unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine, Russia should show it is “ready to resume work on nuclear arms control,” Biden said in the statement.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Simon Lewis in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis)