Washington announces “agreement in principle” on New Start nuclear disarmament treaty, Moscow denies

The announcement of the United States on New Start quickly fell. Washington reported on Tuesday, October 13, a ” agreement in principle “ with Moscow to extend the nuclear disarmament treaty. “We are in fact keen to extend the New Start Treaty for a period of time, provided they agree in return to limit to freeze their nuclear arsenal ”said US negotiator Marshall Billingslea, who since June has been leading talks with Moscow on the bilateral New Start treaty that expires in early 2021 – just after the end of Donald Trump’s current term, candidate for re-election on November 3.

“We believe that there is an agreement in principle at the highest level of our two governments”, added the American diplomat during an online conference organized by the think tank Heritage Foundation.

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The scathing response from Moscow was swift. “Russia and the United States did not agree on a freeze of their nuclear arsenals”, tweeted the Permanent Mission of Russia in Vienna. Such a gel would be “Unacceptable” for Moscow, Moscow negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov, told Russian agencies.

Differences noted by Moscow

The bilateral New Start treaty, concluded in 2010, keeps the arsenals of the two countries well below their level during the Cold War, limiting the number of strategic nuclear launchers deployed to 700 and the number of nuclear warheads on these launchers to 1,550.

“If the Americans agreed with the documents we gave them, and accepted them, such an agreement could be reached even tomorrow. But under conditions with such divergences, I cannot even imagine on what basis our colleagues in Washington are making such assumptions ”Mr Riabkov told the Ria Novosti agency. According to him, Russia and the United States still have “Different views on how to strengthen arms control in the future”.

However, the American negotiator cut short a trip to Asia last week to meet Mr. Riabkov in Helsinki. On Tuesday, he explained that he then felt that Russia seemed ready for a compromise.

Mr. Billingslea also noted that Moscow has yet to give its final approval to the verbal agreement with its Russian counterpart and give it the necessary authority to define the details of a more formal agreement. “We are ready to make this agreement. We can wrap it up tomorrow, in fact ”, he said.

The integration of China desired by Washington

He stressed that the United States still wanted China to join in future nuclear disarmament negotiations. “Any agreement we make with the Russians must be formulated and formatted in such a way as to allow us to extend this arrangement to the Chinese when they join the negotiating table.”, he explained.

The United States has insisted since the start of the negotiations that China join the discussions, stressing that the Chinese arsenal is developing at high speed. But Beijing, which considers that its arsenal is still much inferior to that of Moscow or Washington, refuses to participate in tripartite negotiations.

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Russia and the United States together still hold more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, according to the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). Washington has some 5,800 nuclear warheads in 2020 and Moscow has 6,375, against 320 for Beijing, 290 for Paris and 215 for London, according to the Swedish institute.

It is the last nuclear agreement still in force after US President Donald Trump reneged on three agreements: the one on Iranian nuclear power, the INF treaty on medium-range land missiles, and the Open Skies treaty, or Open Skies, aimed at to verify the military movements and the arms limitation measures of the signatory countries.

The World with AFP


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