Article image Putin proposes one-year extension of New START treaty

Article image Putin proposes one-year extension of New START treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday made a strong call to save the last existing nuclear arms control pact between his country and the United States, proposing to extend it at least for one year.

"President Putin's response today to extend New START without freezing nuclear warheads is a non-starter", O'Brien said.

But the United States national security advisor, Robert O'Brien, said he had already proposed a one-year extension to Russian Federation - with the condition that both nations freeze warhead work during that period. "I have a proposal, specifically, to extend the treaty without any conditions for at least a year".

Speaking at a meeting of his Security Council, Putin said that it would be extremely sad if the treaty ceases to exist without being replaced by another fundamental document of the kind.

At a videoconference with the National Security Council, Putin instructed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to propose to the United States party the extension of the Start-3 and hold substantive negotiations on the new deal.

"We are, in fact, willing to extend the New START treaty for some period of time, provided that they [Russia], in return, agree to a limitation - a freeze - on their nuclear arsenal", Billingslea said, calling Moscow a "serial treaty violator".

The Russian chief arms control negotiator also noted that Russia would refuse any agreement on the New START that was timed to coincide with the United States presidential election.

The terms of New START meant both nations could actively deploy no more than 1,550 active nuclear warheads, whether attached to intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines or aircraft.

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Tensions have raged for months over the fate of New START, which caps the number of nuclear warheads held by Washington and Moscow and expires on February 5.

After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty a year ago, New START is the only nuclear arms control deal between the two countries still standing.

Democrat Joe Biden, who was vice president when New START was negotiated during the Obama administration and ratified by the Senate, has said he would not hesitate to agree to Putin's original proposal for a five-year extension of New START.

In response, Russia's top diplomat said, the United States came up with a number of proposals described as pre-conditions necessary to extend New START.

The Trump administration's talk of a cap, or freeze, on all categories of warheads has puzzled some US analysts, in part because the number of those weapons has held steady over the past decade or so.

Lavrov's pessimistic view contrasted with recent statements from USA diplomats, who said that Moscow and Washington were close to a deal.

But tensions rapidly built up again once Putin returned to the presidency from 2012.

In Washington, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said in an interview that he hopes Trump accepts Putins offer of a short-term treaty extension without conditions, given the approaching expiration of New START in early February.

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