President Joe Biden (L) and President Vladimir Putin.
WASHINGTON – The Biden government has extended an important nuclear weapons treaty with Russia for another five years, the top American diplomat announced on Wednesday.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, expired this week. The deal is the only arms control agreement between Washington and Moscow that was signed after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) treaty.
“President Biden has pledged to protect the American people from nuclear threats by restoring US leadership on arms control and non-proliferation,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. “Today the United States took the first step to deliver on that promise by extending the new START treaty with the Russian Federation for five years.”
Similar to the INF treaty, New START limits the nuclear arsenals of Washington and Moscow. The United States and Russia have the lion’s share of the world’s nuclear weapons.
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“The verification system of the new START treaty allows us to monitor Russia’s compliance with the treaty and provides us with better insight into Russia’s nuclear situation, including through data sharing and on-site inspections that enable US inspectors to to keep an eye on Russian nuclear forces and facilities, “Blinken said.
The foreign minister added that since the agreement began in 2011, the US had determined that Russia was meeting its obligations under the new START treaty.
“The United States will use the five-year extension of the new START treaty to pursue arms control with the Russian Federation, in consultation with Congress and US allies and partners, that affects all of its nuclear weapons,” Blinken said in one Opinion.
Blinken added that the Biden government will work to continue arms control “to reduce the dangers of the modern and growing Chinese nuclear arsenal.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that the Biden administration “will continue to have clear eyes on the challenges Russia poses”.
“Even if we work with Russia to advance US interests, we will hold Russia accountable for its ruthless and controversial behavior,” Price said.
Price also said the five-year extension gives the US “time and space to talk about the broader strategic elements of stability” emerging from the arms control deal.