US extends nuclear arms control treaty with Russia for 5 years
Washington: The US on Wednesday extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia for five years, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Extending the New START Treaty ensures we have verifiable limits on Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026,” said Blinken, adding that the extension “makes the United States, US allies and partners, and the world safer”, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important,” he said.
Blinken noted that Washington would use the five-year extension period to seek arms control with Moscow that addresses all of the Russian nuclear weapons.
The New START, which limits the numbers of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 and delivery systems to 700 for each, is the last remaining nuclear arms control pact in force between the two nuclear superpowers.
The treaty can be extended by a maximum of five years with the consent of the two countries.
The former Donald Trump-led administration tried to conclude a shorter extension of the treaty last year after rounds of negotiation with Russia, but the two sides failed to finalize a formal agreement.
Immediately after taking office, President Joe Biden proposed a full five-year extension of the treaty that expires on February 5, a move welcomed by the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last Friday signed a bill into law ratifying a five-year extension of the New START with the United States.
The extension of the New START might be a bright spot for the US-Russia relations, but the overall tensions between Washington and Moscow are unlikely to decrease given their differences on issues of human rights, Ukraine, cybersecurity as well as their mutual accusation of interference in the domestic politics.