The last remaining disarmament agreement between Russia and the USA expires next February. Now President Putin has made an offer. Can that save the deal?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to extend the New Start Agreement on nuclear disarmament by one year without preconditions. He is proposing to extend the existing agreement with the United States for at least a year to allow for comprehensive negotiations, Putin said in Moscow on Friday, according to the Kremlin.
The US rejected the offer a few hours later. Putin’s proposal to extend the New Start Treaty without a freeze on the number of nuclear warheads is “a bummer,” said US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien. “We hope that Russia will reassess its position before a costly arms race sets in.”
New Start is the last remaining nuclear disarmament agreement between the US and Russia and expires next February. A few days ago the US announced that there was an agreement in principle with Russia on an extension. However, US negotiator Marshall Billingslea made a limitation of the Russian nuclear arsenal a condition. Moscow rejected this as “unacceptable” at the time.
In the disarmament agreement, Russia and the USA committed themselves to reducing the number of their nuclear warheads to a maximum of 1,550 – about 30 percent less than in the previous Sort agreement of 2002. The two countries together own around 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Washington and Moscow ended an initial round of negotiations on the future of New Start in June with no tangible results. The US government insists on China’s participation in the disarmament talks.