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Home Lao Chinese Partners

Russia urges US to end foot-dragging on treaty

CHINA (China Daily) -- A senior Russian official has criticised the United States for throwing up obstacles in the path of efforts to extend a key arms controls treaty.
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday said the US is trying to disrupt efforts aimed at extending the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, known as the New START. The US' failure to cooperate could have extremely serious consequences, he said.
Medvedev said Russia has repeatedly raised the issue of extending the agreement, "but our American partners are constantly creating new obstacles to this".
The New START, which was signed by Moscow and Washington in 2010, is scheduled to last until Feb 5, 2021, unless it is replaced with another agreement on nuclear arms reduction.
It can be extended for no more than five years, to 2026, with the consent of both parties.
The US insists that any new deal should cover Russian weapon systems that are under development.
The US request looks utterly unrealistic, Medvedev wrote in an article that appeared in Russian media.
Medvedev, a former prime minister and president, said it seemed that Washington is trying "to indulge in endless back-and-forth dialogue and torpedo the prolongation of this document, which is extremely important for maintaining strategic stability in the world".
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also urged its US counterpart to engage with Russia as a means of extending the only nuclear disarmament treaty now in place between the two countries.
In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry said it had made an official proposal to the US for the New START to be extended and invited US officials to get down to work on practical issues in December, without any preconditions.
The treaty has become even more significant, according to the ministry, because "it remains the sole control and limitation mechanism" in relation to Moscow's and Washington's strategic weapons.
Under the treaty, each side is required to reduce its nuclear warhead count to 1,550, and to 700 for deployed launchers. The document came into force on Feb 5, 2011. On Feb 5, 2018, both sides declared that the proclaimed goals had been reached.
Serious consequences
If the New START deal ceases to exist, its demise will have extremely serious consequences for international security, Medvedev said.
Andrey Bystritsky, chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, said the most important factor is whether there is the political will on both sides to stick to what could be a turbulent negotiation process.
After the coronavirus epidemic ends, global aspirations for nuclear de-escalation, including via bilateral agreements, might actually strengthen, Bystritsky said.
A new deal might not merely set down limits on the parties' nuclear weapons, but amount to a declaration of intent by Russia and the US to cooperate, he said.


(Latest Update April 10, 2020


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